Donald Simpson Bell

Donald Simpson Bell
Donald Simpson Bell

Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell, VC (3 December 1890 – 10 July 1916) was an English school teacher and professional footballer. During World War I he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for actions during the Battle of the Somme in mid-1916.


Bell was born on 3 December 1890 to Smith and Annie Bell, who resided in Queen’s Road, Harrogate. He attended St Peter’s Church of England Primary School and Harrogate Grammar School before going to Westminster College, London, to train as a teacher. A noted sportsman at college, he played as an amateur with Crystal Palace and later for Newcastle United. He returned to Harrogate and became a schoolteacher at Starbeck Council School (now Starbeck Primary School) and a member of the National Union of Teachers. To supplement his salary, in 1912 he signed professional forms with Bradford (Park Avenue). He played 6 games for the club as a defender or midfielder between 1912–14.

World War I

When World War I broke out, he became the first professional footballer to enlist into the British Army – joining the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and then commissioned into the 9th … Read the rest

Sydney Stanley French

Sydney Stanley French, 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment & Second World War Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden

Sydney Stanley French was born on 9th November 1894 and would see service as a Private and later Acting Corporal (No. 19743) with the 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment on the Western Front from 16th December 1915. He was noted as wounded in the Suffolk and Free Press on 20th September 1916, this during the Battle of the Somme where the battalion saw action at Ovillers and La Boiselle, and he would later be discharged due to wounds and sickness on 18th July 1917.

Sydney would go on to serve during the Second World War as part of an Air Raid Protection Rescue Party, this being confirmed on the 1939 Register, where he is noted as living at Roseberry Road, Chelmsford.