News from the Green Howards
2ND LT. DONALD SIMPSON BELL'S VC MEDAL GROUP BOUGHT BY THE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Yesterday 2nd Lt. Donald Simpson Bell's VC medal group was sold at Spink's auction house for a record £210,000. The medal group had been on loan to the museum since 1964 and while the Trustees worked hard to purchase the group for the museum it proved impossible to raise the funds in the time available.
The medal group has been purchased by the Professional Football Association (PFA) who will display the group at the Football Museum when it reopens at its new home in Manchester in 2011. The PFA have also indicated that they will be happy to lend the group to the museum as and when we wish.
The PFA have had an association with the museum since 2000 when they helped fund the permanent memorial to 2nd Lt. Donald Simpson Bell at Contalmaison, The Somme, France. The PFA also funded the programme for the Green Howards Museum Friends rededication of the memorial in September this year. The purchase of the medal group by the PFA will ensure that the group remains in the public domain and that Bell's life as a footballer and soldier is celebrated in a fitting way.
Donald Bell was born in Harrogate on 3 December 1890. He was educated at Harrogate Grammar School and Westminster College, where he excelled at rugby, cricket and football. He decided to become a teacher and was appointed Assistant Master at Starbeck School near Harrogate.
Between 1910-1912 he played amateur football for Crystal Palace, Bishop Auckland and Newcastle United. To supplement his pay of £2.50 per week, he decided to become a professional footballer with Bradford Avenue Football Club. He made his debut as full-back on 13 April 1913 against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. He made five league appearances for Bradford Park Avenue before the outbreak of the Great War.
Donald Bell was amongst the first professional footballers to enlist as a volunteer in November 1914. He was commissioned into the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) in June 1915.
Bell is the only English professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross, for conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.