The Memorial to Donald Bell VC – Bell’s Redoubt, Contalmaison, The Somme

28Aug2014_0152 28Aug2014_0153

Memorial to Donald Bell VC

Memorial to Donald Bell VC, prior to it’s recent renovation

Bell’s Redoubt The memorial to 2Lt. D S Bell, VC

Donald Bell VC, is presumed to be the first English professional footballer to enlist in 1914, and the only one believed to have been awarded a VC. 2Lt Donald Simpson Bell was of the 9th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and died on July 10, 1916 aged 25. He was husband to Rhoda Bell of Wilmslow, Cheshire.

An extract from the ‘London Gazette’ no.29740 dated September 8, 1916 records the following citation:

“For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack a very heavy enVCDonaldSimpsonBellGravefilade fire was opened on the attacking company by hostile machine guns. 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 the gun and personnel with bombs. This very brave act saved many lives and ensured the success of the attack. Five days later this very gallant officer lost his life after performing a very similar act of bravery.”

Five days later he lost his life at Horseshoe Trench, 1km to the west of the memorial, near Contalmaison Wood, performing exactly the same bomb-led attack on a mortar and machine gun emplacement, near to where the sign for Longueval out of the village stands. The memorial was placed by the Friends of the Green Howards Museum in July 2000. Bell’s Redoubt itself is located 0.25km south east of Contalmaison village, at the top of a small lane, which can easily be missed. It can be accessed by road, for all visitors, as it is located at the roadside.

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