BELL, DONALD SIMPSON (DONNY) (VC) (Reserve 1911-12)
 
DOB: DEC.3rd.1890, WESTERN FLATS, QUEENS ROAD, HARROGATE, YORKSHIRE. 
DIED: JUL.10th.1916, BATTLE OF THE SOMME, FRANCE (Aged 25). 
HEIGHT: ? WEIGHT: ?
POSITION: FULL BACK- RIGHT BACK.  
 
CLUBS
 
HARROGATE CHRISTCHURCH (JUNIOR- 1905). STARBECK (YOUTH- 1905). MIRFIELD UNITED (1906).
CRYSTAL PALACE (AMATEUR- 1906 To 1907).
WESTMINSTER COLLEGE (CRICKET & FOOTBALL XI- 1909 To 1911)
BISHOP AUCKLAND (1909 To 1911).
NUFC (TRIAL Then AMATEUR- AUG.1911 To OCT.1912).
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE (PRO- OCT.1912 To 1914).
 
PLAYER PROFILE
 
Donald Simpson Bell was born in December 1890 in Harrogate. His early schooling was at St. Peters Juniors School & then Knaresborough & Hsrrogate Grammar Schools. He later went onto teacher training at Westminster College in London. It was here that he reportedly ran 100 metre in 10.5 seconds in an event. He also featured in both the colleges cricket & football sides between 1909 & 1911. He also played rugby while residing there & was recognised as a good all round sportsman. His earliest association rules football at the local grammar school. On leaving school he he progressed playing for local sides Starbeck & Mirfield United, before joining Crystal Palace as an amateur in the summer of 1906. During the 1906-07 season with Crystal Palace; he featured on 6 occasions for their reserve side in the London & Western League campaign. The peak of his brief time here was scoring twice in February 1907 in a 6:2 win over Luton town.  While doing his teacher training at college, Bell also turned out for Bishop Auckland. Once qualified, with a 1st Class Honours Degree, Bell began teaching back in Harrogate as an Assistant Master at Starbeck Council School; earning £2 10 shillings a week. Unfortunately, bar his time at Palace, no football playing details have come to light from this early part of his playing career while he was in his teens.
 
In the summer of 1911 Donald Bell signed amateur forms for Newcastle. In the 1911-12 pre season he was first season playing in two practice matches at St. James. The first was on August 16th featuring at left back for ‘The Whites’ in a 5:3 win over ‘The Stripes’. He also featured on August 19th in a further practice match, but the score from the game is not known. That season Donald featured for Newcastle’s reserves & there was stiff competition for places in the side. His debut in the reserve side was September 30th playing in his familiar right back position & the side defeated Carlisle United 4:1 in a North Eastern League fixture. This would be one of only 5 known appearances in the side, with his last being on February 24th.1912, when Newcastle’s reserve team lost 1:0 to Darlington in the league. Prior to this he had featured I the high scoring 8:0 hammering of North Shields Athletic on January 6th. The side had a good season which culminated I them completing their fixtures in 2nd. place. In October 1912 he move back to Yorkshire signing as a professional for Division Two side Bradford Park Avenue. During his first season with the club he struggled to make the first team & he did not make his debut for them until April 16th.1913. It was a memorable performance by the Bradford side when they defeated Wolves 5:1. For the record he featured at left back that day. Unfortunately no details have so far been located, so far of any non first team appearances at Bradford Park Avenue. The 1913-14 season saw Donald Bell begin to establish himself in the side. He got a run in the side at right back from October 18th. Here they defeated Fulham 1:0. In total he featured in 4 league matches & the last of these was on November 8th 1913. It was against Wolves & Bradford Park Avenue lost 1:0. Again competition for places in the side was fierce, with  Watson dominating the right back spot & Bradford finished the season in 2nd. place to gain promotion into Division One. World War I now loomed & sadly Donald would not get the opportunity to feature in their Division I campaign for the 1914-15 season. Bell had also been an active member of the YMCA & featured for an International YMCA touring side in Denmark. He was also a member of the Claro Tent of the Independent Order of Rechabites. 
 
Just weeks after war broke out, Donald Simpson Bell became the first professional footballer to volunteer for army service  in the Great War & he enlisted with the West Yorkshire Regiment as Private Soldier. Bell very quickly proved to be an effective soldier & he rose through the ranks rapidly becoming a non-commissioned officer. He went to the Western Front in France just two days after his marriage to Rhoda Bonson in October 1915. The ceremony had been a hurriedly arranged in Rhoda’s home town of Kirkby Stephen. Donald’s rank in the army was now 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, the Green Howard’s. While on leave on June 16th 1916, Bell got married in Kirby Stephen to Rhoda Bronson, before soon returning to the trenches of the Somme.  The official Yorkshire Regiments recorded that 9 battalions of their regiment of approximately 100 men each then fought in the Battle of the Somme. It finally ended on November 18th 1916 & the regiment had suffered 3 500 casualties. Donald Bell’s actions in the battle showed tremendous bravery & sadly ultimately cost him his life. He was awarded the Victoria Cross Posthumously. This was for his actions on July 5th.1916. which have well been documented. The 69 Brigade of the 9th. Battalion were attempting to capture a position called “Horseshoe Trench”, which was South East of La Boiselle. His actions were described as ‘of his own initiative leading two others, he crept up a communication trench & then rushed across open fir to attack a hostile machine gun which was holding back a British advance. He shot the firer with a revolver and destroyed the gun post with grenade and also through bombs into a nearby enemy trench killing over 50 enemy soldiers. The act was described as an act ‘most conspicuous bravery’, which saved many lives. At the time of the event, Donald modestly made light of his achievement saying his accuracy a grenade had been a fluke.
 
Sadly 5 days later on July 10th. Donald Bell lost his life attempting a similar act of ‘very gallant bravery’ on a German machine gun post, but he was sadly felled & killed at what was named ‘Bells’ Redoubt’ in his honour. On his loss, his commanding officer wrote to his family saying he was a great loss to the battalion & that he was one of finest officers he had seen’. Donald Simpson Bell was only 25 years old when he died. It is widely felt that superb athleticism enabled him to attempt such acts of bravery. His local newspaper of the time the ‘Harrogate Herald’ reported that Bell had fallen, stating that they news had reached them by wire & were reporting his death with great shock, so soon after his recent very brave act. About two months later Donald Bell was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. His named lived on at the battlefield with the place were he fell being named ‘Bell’s Redoubt’.  In the year 2000, a 5 foot tall monument was erected close to a village Contalmaison, in memory of Lieutenant Bell & his other Yorkshire Regiment colleagues who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme. Donald is actually buried at the Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle. The reference for his grave is  4m North of Albert, Plot IV, Row A. Grave 8. His Victoria Cross is displayed in the Green Howard’s Museum in Richmond Yorkshire. Donald Simpson Bell’s name is also contained on the Harrogate Cenotaph, St. Peter’s War Memorial, Harrogate & the Bell’s Redoubt Memorial, Contalmaison, Somme. It was his grief stricken widowed wife Rhoda that was presented with the Victory Cross by King George V. There is also a plague in his honour in Harrogate Sunday School engraved ‘a good solider of Jesus Christ’. On November 25th. 2010, Donald Bell’s Victory Cross medal sold of £252, 000 at an auction on London & they are now on display in a museum. Also in 2010, Bradford Park Avenue chairman Dr. John Dean attended a rededication of the memorial.                        
 
MILTARY HONOURS: VICTORA CROSS. JUL.1916.
 
ARMY RANK:  SECOND LIEUTENANT OF THE 9TH. BATTALION OF THE YORKSHIRE REGIMENT.
      
 
SENIOR PLAYER HISTORY
 
CRYSTAL PALACE: 1906-07 SEASON: RESERVES: Total (Known) / League Apps: 6, 2 Goals.
BISHOP AUCKLAND: 1909 To 1911 (Details Not Known).
WESTMINSTER COLLEGE 1909 To 1911 (Details Not Known0
NUFC: 1911-12 SEASON: RESERVES: Total (Known) Apps: 6, 5 League;  0 Goals.
NUFC: 1911-12 SEASON: PRACTICE MATCHES: Total Apps: 2; 0 Goals.
NUFC: 1912-13 SEASON: PRACTIVE MATHCES: Total Apps: 1; 0 Goals.
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: 1912-13 SEASON: 1sT. TEAM- Total / League Apps: 1; 0 Goals.
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: 1913-14 SEASON: 1ST. TEAM- Total / League Apps: 4; 0 Goals.    
 
DONALD SIMPSON BELL, (VC). 
 
ROLE: FULL BACK.
HEIGHT: ? WEIGHT: ?
DOB: DEC.3rd.1890, QUEENS ROAD, HARROGATE, YORKSHIRE.
DIED: JUL.10th.1916, BATTLE OF SOMME, FRANCE (AGED 25)
 
CAREER
 
HARROGATE CHRISTCHURCH (JUNIOR- 1905). STARBECK (YOUTH- 1905). MIRFIELD UNITED (1906).
CRYSTAL PALACE (AMATEUR- 1906 To 1907).
WESTMINSTER COLLEGE (CRICKET & FOOTBALL XI- 1909 To 1911)
BISHOP AUCKLAND (1909 To 1911).
NUFC (TRIAL- AUG.15th.1911 Then Signed- AMATEUR- AUG.1911 To OCT.1912).
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE (PRO- OCT.1912 To 1914).
 
(*Donald Bell was the first professional footballer to enrol to serve in the army in World War One).
 
NUFC: PLAYING HISTORY
 
1911-12 SEASON: RESERVES / ‘A’s: TOTAL (Known) APPS: 6, 5 League;  0 GOALS.
 
HONOURS 
 
NORTH EASTERN LEAGUE RUNNER UP 1911-12 SEASON (NUFC RESERVES)
ENGLISH DIVISION II PROMOTION 1913-14 (BRADFORD PA)
 
MILITARY HONOURS
 
VICTORIA CROSS- POSTUMOUS MILITARY AWARD.
 
DONALD BELL
 
APPEARANCE RECORD
 
1906-07 SEASON
 
CRYSTAL PALACE (Amateur): RESERVES (Known) APPEARANCE
 
FEB.1907, LUTON TOWN, Won 6:2, London & Western League. Scored 2 Goals.
 
Total London & Western League Apps: 6, 2 Goals.
 
1909 To 1911
 
WESTMINSTER COLLEGE
 
(APPEARANCES NOT KNOWN)
 
1909 To 1911
 
BISHOP AUCKLAND: 1ST. TEAM
 
(APPEARANCES NOT KNOWN):
 
1911-12 SEASON
 
NUFC: ‘A’s (RESERVES) (Known) Appearances
 
SEP.30th.1911, CARLISLE UNITED, Won 4:1, NE. League. *DEBUT. Right Back.
 
NOV.18th.1911, SPEN BLACK & WHITE, Won 1:0, Newcastle Infirmary Cup 2nd Rd. START- Right Back.
 
JAN.1st.1912, WEST STANLEY, Won 4:2, NE. League. Right Back. (One Report Right Back= Waugh?)
 
JAN.6th.1912, NORTH SHIELDS ATHLETIC, Won 8:0. NE. League. Right Back. (One Report Right Back= McCombie?)
 
JAN.20th.1912, SEAHAM HARBOUR, Won 5:0, NE. League. Right Back.
 
FEB.24th.1912, DARLINGTON, Lost 0:1, NE. League. Right Back.
 
North Eastern League- Position: 2nd   Total (Known) Apps: 6, 5 League;  0 Goals.
 
NUFC: PRACTICE MATCHES
 
AUG.16th.1911, WHITES v STRIPES, Won 5:3, 1st Practice Match. Left Back.
 
AUG.19th.1911, WHITES v STRIPES, Score not known, 2nd Practice Match. Right Back.
 
(AUG.25th.1911, STRIPES v WHITES, Lost 1:4, 3rd Practice Match. Was Listed to play at Right Back but was Replaced).
 
1912-13 SEASON
 
NUFC: PRACTICE MATCH
 
AUG.26th.1912, STRIPES v WHITES, Lost 0:1, 3rd Practice Match. Right Back.    
 
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: 1ST. TEAM
 
APR.16th.1913, WOLVES, Won 5:1, English Division II. *DEBUT- Left Back.
 
1913-14 SEASON
 
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: 1ST. TEAM
 
OCT.18th.1913, FULHAM, Won 1:0, English Division II. Right Back.
 
OCT.25th.1913, NOTTS. COUNTY, Won 3:2, English Division II. Right Back.
 
NOV.1st.1913, LEICESTER FOSSE, Won 3:2, English Division II. Right Back.
 
NOV.8th.1913, WOLVES, Lost 0:1, English Division II. Right Back.
 
English League Division II- Position: 2nd. / Promotion.  Total / League Apps: 4;  0 Goals. 
 
(Up Dated MAR.2015)




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