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Bell, Donald Simpson, VC
1890-1916

Professional footballer, born in Harrogate. While training as a teacher at Westminster College 1909-1911, he played as an amateur for Crystal Palace FC. As a teacher at Starbeck Council School, Harrogate, he played for Newcastle, then turned professional with Bradford City in 1912. He became a class leader at Wesley Church, Harrogate, where his name appears on the war memorial and there is a memorial plaque to him. The stained glass window in his memory is now in the chapel at Westminster College.

He was the first professional footballer to enlist in 1914 and is one of only two to be awarded the VC. He was commissioned in the Yorkshire Regiment (later the Green Howards) in June 1915. In July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when his platoon was pinned down by machine-gun fire, at great risk to himself he crept up close enough to rush the gun and its crew and put it out of action. Five days later, on 10 July, during a German counter-attack on the village of Contalmaison, he was shot in the head performing a similar action and was awarded the VC. In 2000 the spot where he died, known as Bell's Redoubt, was marked by a 5 ft cross set up by the Professional Footballers' Association and the Green Howards.

Sources

  • Report of the WM Committee of Education, 1919-1920, pp.45-6

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person

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