Bradford Park Avenue Community Football Club are to be donated a memorial plaque from Bell’s Redoubt in Contalmaison.
The plaque was erected in 2000 on a memorial placed where former Avenue player Donald Bell VC fell in the First World War.
It has recently been refurbished, and is now being donated to the football club which has marked the 100-year anniversary of Bell’s death this season.
Bell was the only professional footballer to earn the Victoria Cross, the country’s highest honour, for his bravery in capturing a German machine gun point five days before he was killed performing a similar act of bravery.
The club have been presented with the plaque from Bell’s Redoubt in Contalmaison, The Somme, Northern France, by The Friends of the Green Howards Museum.
Making the presentation will be Major David Nicholson and Richard Leake and the club are also pleased to announce that Colonel Martin Dransfield, a great nephew of Second Lieutenant Donald Bell VC will also be in attendance at the presentation.
Once only a wooden cross existed to mark the place, known as Bell’s Redoubt, where Donald Simpson Bell was killed in action on The Somme on the 10th July 1916 performing an act of heroism similar to the one that earned him the Victoria Cross just five days earlier.
It was Richard Leake’s idea in 1996 to create a fitting memorial for Donald and on his design it was unveiled in September 2000 by General The Lord Dannatt, the then Chief of the General Staff and Colonel of The Green Howards, in a ceremony at Bell’s Redoubt.
The plaque to be presented by the Friends of the Green Howards Musuem on Saturday is the very one that was fitted to the memorial unveiled by General The Lord Dannatt.
It was the Committee of the Friends of the Green Howards Musuem, in particular Major Roger Chapman, Richard Leake and David Nicholson that were instrumental in organising the memorial to Donald unveiled in September 2000.
Indeed the ‘Three Musketeers’ as they became affectionately known, organised a rededication to the memorial of Donald Bell in September 2010 which Bradford Park Avenue attended.
More recently they organised the events held in September 2016 in and around Contalmaison to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of The Somme and to remember members of the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) who lost their lives in the battle.
The focal point of that weekend was the service at Bell’s Redoubt to commemorate the life of Donald Bell and included a football match between Albert Sports FC and Bradford Park Avenue/The Yorkshire Regiment on the Saturday afternoon.
The memorial at Bell’s Redoubt was extensively refurbished in 2014, under Richard Leake’s design, to the one we see today and the brass plaque of the 2000 design was replaced by one made from granite.
Richard Leake has written a book called ‘A Breed Apart’ about Donald Bell and fellow Yorkshire Regiment Officer, Captain Archie White VC, which can be purchased through the club’s shop.