Personal info

  • Name: Donald Simpson BELL
  • D.O.B: 3rd December, 1890
  • D.O.A: 5th July, 1916
  • D.O.D: 10th July, 1916
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Temporary Second Lieutenant, 9th Battalion Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (The Yorkshire Regiment), 69th Brigade, 23rd Division
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La Boisselle, France 3-5 July 1916

3-5 July 1916

More details about:
The Somme, France 1-2 July 1916 

La Boisselle lies on the Bapaume Road about two miles north-east of Albert. On 1 July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the attack there on the German line by the 34th Division failed to make headway and the 19th Division was brought up. On 2 July the 58th Brigade established itself south of La Boisselle and the 57th Brigade was ordered to continue the assault. The brigade attacked at 3.15am on the 3rd but the capture of the village was not completed before the end of 4 July and fierce fighting continued the following day, when the 23rd Division’s objective was Horseshoe Trench, on high ground between La Boisselle and Mametz to the south-east, just beyond Fricourt. Despite heavy casualties progress was made and Horseshoe Trench was taken. It was here that T/Lieutenant T O L Wilkinson, 7th Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and Temporary Second Lieutenant D S Bell, 9th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, distinguished themselves. Corporal Colwill and Private Batey, who assisted Bell, were each awarded the DCM. In the fighting on the 3rd Temporary Lieutenant Colonel A P Carton de Wiart, commanding 8th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment, had taken charge of 8th Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment, 10th Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment and 10th Battalion The Warwickshire Regiment, when their commanders became casualties. It was due to his courage and determination under heavy fire that the British managed to maintain their positions. In the course of that day Lt W Jennings, 10th Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment, was wounded in the leg. Private T G Turrall dragged him to a shell-hole and used part of an entrenching tool as a splint. He had to fight off German attacks and at one point, during a German counter-attack, feign death. Turrall remained with Jennings for three hours and finally brought him back to British lines. Jennings died a few hours later.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack a very heavy enfilade fire was opened on the attacking company by a hostile machine gun. 2nd Lt. Bell immediately, and on his own initiative, crept up a communication trench and then, followed by Corpl. Colwill and Pte. Batey, rushed across the open under very heavy fire and attacked the machine gun, shooting the firer with his revolver, and destroying gun and personnel with bombs. This very brave act saved many lives and ensured the success of the attack. Five days later this gallant officer lost his life performing a very similar act of bravery. 

Supplement to The London Gazette of 8 September 1916. 9 September 1916, Numb. 29740, p. 8870

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