Having kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign with a win over Slovakia, Chris Coleman's side would have qualified from Group B by beating a side Bale had described as "the enemy" in the build up.
Bale's long-range free-kick made that a very real possibility as the underdogs led at the break in Lens, but two England substitutes - first Jamie Vardy and then, right at the end, Daniel Sturridge - secured the three points for Roy Hodgson's men.
But afterwards Bale was keen to talk up the positives his side could take from the game, insisting he was “proud of everybody”.
"Obviously it is massively disappointing, but I'm very proud of everybody," said Bale.
"We gave everything, like we always do, and I have said before if we go out but have given 100 per cent then we can't do any more.
"We are disappointed at the moment, but we are strong inside and the tournament is not over yet. We will go into the next game [against Russia] with even more strength.
"We keep fighting all the way. We will keep fighting to qualify. We knew if it wasn't a great result we were still in the thick of things."