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Remembered Today:

Donald Bell VC


burlington
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Todays Telegraph Sport carries an article about Bell, together with a photo of his VC & badly damaged helmet.

Bell won his VC at Horseshoe Trench near Contalmaison but died leading another attack, on a machine gun post.

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Thre was at least one other professional footballer who won the VC. Willie Angus who signed for Celtic in 1911 and played for the team during seasons 1912-13 and 1913-14 became the first ever Scottish Territorial soldier to win the Victoria Cross, June 12th, 1915 at Givenchy.

Tom

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I`m amazed that, having won a VC, a soldier wasn`t offered or given a safe posting or at least sent home for, say, six months to a training post, something like aircrew after a tour in WW2. Or perhaps they were? It`s always so sad when you read how someone won the VC and was killed while on a working party or trench raid shortly afterwards. Phil B

PS I don`t see any of my current Blackburn Rovers team as potential VC winners!

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William Angus VC at Givenchy...now in 2004. The original place was near the craters in the field.

post-1-1091206978.jpg

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Todays Telegraph Sport carries an article about Bell, together with a photo of his VC & badly damaged helmet.

Bell won his VC at Horseshoe Trench near Contalmaison but died leading another attack, on a machine gun post.

I thought he won the VC for an action at Lincoln Redoubt, west of La Boisselle by a few kilometers on the eastern slopes of Sausage Valley...and then later killed east of Contalmaison where the memorial now sits.

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Looks like Horseshoe Trench, AO! Phil B

From:- http://www.greenhowards.org.uk/html-files/vcgc-bell.htm

For most conspicuous bravery at Horseshoe Trench on 5th July I916. During an attack a very heavy enfilade fire was opened on the attacking company by an hostile machine gun. Second Lieutenant Bell immediately, and on his own initiative, crept up a communication trench and then, followed by Corporal Colwill and Private Batey, rushed across the open under very heavy fire and attacked the machine gun, shooting the firer with his revolver and destroying gun and personnel with bombs.

(2nd Lieut. Bell, who played for Bradford Park Avenue, was the only English professional footballer to win the VC.)

Note he was the only ENGLISH pro., according to this.

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Don Bell's VC, shattered helmet and last letter home are all on display at the Green Howards Museum in Richmond North Yorks.

Fascinating.

Bob.

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I`m amazed that, having won a VC, a soldier wasn`t offered or given a safe posting or at least sent home for, say, six months to a training post, something like aircrew after a tour in WW2. Or perhaps they were?  It`s always so sad when you read how someone won the VC and was killed while on a working party or trench raid shortly afterwards.                    Phil B

PS I don`t see any of my current Blackburn Rovers team as potential VC winners!

I believe Blackburn did have a footballer in the war at some stage, by the

name of George Robertson.

All existing Blackburn players should receive an award for having to work with

Mr Souness.

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Imagine Pte G.Souness (HLI) coming at you with a rifle and bayonet! He`d probably feint with the bayonet, then kick you in the crutch! Phil B

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  • 2 years later...

A memorial plaque has been raised to Donald Bell in the Weslyan Methodist Church at Harrogate. It reads:

A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

To The Memory Of

2nd Lieut. Donald S. Bell, V.C.

Who Fell In Action

July 10th 1916

"A Valued Teacher Of Wesley Sunday School. Greatly Loved"

Regards,

Dave

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Hi

I took a group in about May of this year to the said spot, turned out some of them were the very guys who raised and made the memorial in 2000. The funds were raised from the Professional Footballers Association and the guy in charge was the Deputy Chief Executive.

His memorial was constructed and paid for by the English PFA.

He was the FIRST professional ENGLISH footballer to ENLIST, doing so in November 1914.

Just to let you know, Donald Bell VC, is buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, just outside La Boiselle on the way to Contalmaison.

I have attatched a photo of the memorial of the day.

Cheers

Marc.

post-1599-1165106262.jpg

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post-15439-1165108742.jpg

From the front cover of Gun Fire 31. A short read of 16 pages about Don Bell, contains unpublished letters to his mother including his last letter home. If anyone's interested just let me know, cheers, Jon :D

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There seems to be a bit of an outcry regarding another Bell memorial at the moment, situated at Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre, Harrogate, opposite the train station. As i remember, this memorial was only unveiled about 10 years back and is apparently in a bad state already.

Regards, Chris.

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The Memorial Dedication Programme of July 9th 2000 says:

"The Green Howards owe a great deal to the PFA and Football League for supporting this memorial project.They are proud as we are of the only English footballer to be awarded the V.C.He also thanks the Mayor of Contalmaison Monsieur Bernard Senechal and the people of the village for their enthusiastic and generous support.He particularly thanks the Friends of the Green Howards museum and patricularly the Hon.Secretary Richard Leake who has seen his idea grow into reality."Major General F.R.Dannant CBE,MC

I know from personal experience that the Memorial was built by a French mason,Richard Leake headed the small committee and the majority of funds came from Green Howards sources.

The parking area was subsequently given by Bernard Senechal and surfaced by the commune who also arrange grass cutting. A small service is held there on June 30th each year.

Before removal to Gordon Dump,Donald Bell was buried close to where he was killed.

Les

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I know from personal experience that the Memorial was built by a French mason,Richard Leake headed the small committee and the majority of funds came from Green Howards sources.

The parking area was subsequently given by Bernard Senechal and surfaced by the commune who also arrange grass cutting.

Les

Les

Can you definately confirm the majority of the funds came from the Green Howards? I have recorded documents, and good testimony from people high up in the organisazion, that the PFA paid for the most of the project, with the Green Howards help of course.

I would like to confirm this and your evidence to support this, if you don't mind.

PM me or email me if you don't want to do it here...

As to the surfaced parking area, I presume you mean this is in the village down the road from the memorial, as there is no-where nearby the memorial to park. It is but a country lane with a little bulge just past the memorial (maybe fit a motorbike in there) and that is it.

Cheers

Marc.

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Marc,

I have spoken to Richard Leake who confirms you are correct in that the P.F.A. contributed well over 50% of the Memorial costs.Mick McGuire attended meetings in the U.K. on behalf of the P.F.A. but the detail of the Memorial was left in the hands of Major Roger Chapman Rtd M.B.E. and Richard.The plaque,mounting and base stones were brought from Yorkshire by Richard and construction was by M.Delaporte of Grandcourt who was recommened by the CWGC.The P.F.A. had no part in this.

As regards parking,the high bank originally came right down to the Memorial site and out as far as the road,so even a motorbike parked could cause a problem for farm vehicles.The Mayor arranged for this bank to be dug back and subsequently surfaced thus providing room for 2/3 cars and enough room for a coach to stop without blocking the road.Not bad for a small agricultural village of 120 inhabitants.

If you wish to contact Richard Leake who lives in France,PM me and I will give you his email address or/and 'phone number.

All the Best,

Les

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Jack (John) Harrison was a professional rugby league player for Hull FC who won the VC serving East Yorkshire Regiment (one of the Hull Pals battalions) - there is a memorial to him at the KC Stadium in Hull.

His club record of a try in 11 consecutive games in the 1914-1915 season was only equalled this year.

http://www.rlhalloffame.org.uk/harrison.htm

Regards,

Neil.

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  • 3 years later...

I am a new member. I am interested in Bell as I am related to the Pte Batey who was alongside him when he won his VC. Batey was awarded the DCM for his part in the action but I understand that he forfeited it because he was found guilty of desrtion in 1918. However, from what little I understand Batey had already been awarded his medal by the King & when they sent the local police to get it off him he refused to hand it over. I would be interested to know if Bell ever mentioned Batey in any of his correspondence. Batey was 19 when he enlisted in 1914. Many Thanks, Jackie

post-15439-1165108742.jpg

From the front cover of Gun Fire 31. A short read of 16 pages about Don Bell, contains unpublished letters to his mother including his last letter home. If anyone's interested just let me know, cheers, Jon :D

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  • 1 month later...
post-15439-1165108742.jpg

From the front cover of Gun Fire 31. A short read of 16 pages about Don Bell, contains unpublished letters to his mother including his last letter home. If anyone's interested just let me know, cheers, Jon :D

Any chance of getting a p/copy of Gun Fire 31 ?

Tony

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I`m amazed that, having won a VC, a soldier wasn`t offered or given a safe posting or at least sent home for, say, six months to a training post, something like aircrew after a tour in WW2. Or perhaps they were? It`s always so sad when you read how someone won the VC and was killed while on a working party or trench raid shortly afterwards.

I think that in part it took a considerable time for the process to result in an award and many deaths took place in this interval

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A memorial plaque has been raised to Donald Bell in the Weslyan Methodist Church at Harrogate. It reads:

A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

To The Memory Of

2nd Lieut. Donald S. Bell, V.C.

Who Fell In Action

July 10th 1916

"A Valued Teacher Of Wesley Sunday School. Greatly Loved"

Regards,

Dave

Great to have you back Dave.

Harry

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  • 11 years later...

I engraved the Brass Cross and was a joy to do. I actually have pictures of it being engraved, will upload it. Loved the job from start to finish and the back story behind 2nd Lieut Bell VC. Was an honour.

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