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World Cup Final Day 2014, Remembering 2nd Lt Bell VC

I write this in my front room with the World Cup Final on in the background.  I'm a big football fan, but this game hasn't kept me glued...yet. 

Given today's sporting importance, it got me thinking about the men that left their sport behind in order to fight for their country, including the first professional footballer to enlist, 2nd Lt Donald Simpson Bell VC.  Bell joined the 9th Battalion Princess of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment in November 1914. 

On 5 July 1916, the 8th and 9th battalions were ordered to take a position known as Horse Shoe Trench between La Boiselle and Mametz Wood.  The trench, along with 146 prisoners and two machine guns was captured. 

Another German machine gun opened up to enfilade the 9th battalion.  Bell, supported by a corporal and a private rushed the gun position.  He skilfully shot the gunner and blew up the position using mills bombs.  He continued his good work bombing along another trench killing almost 50 of the enemy. 

Five days later, he was to perform an almost identical action, but sadly he was killed doing so. 

A sportsman and talented soldier, we remember the first professional soldier to enlist on the most important day for world football. 

Donald Bell is buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery on the Somme. 

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