Donald Bell, a teacher who was also a professional footballer, volunteered for service with the regiment in November 1914.
In this letter of 7 July 1916, Bell describes his exploits of two days previously, possibly to a former teaching colleague.
Here is the full transcript:
Dear Miss Nicky,
I was delighted to receive your letter this morning as we have had very little chance of receiving mail this last few days. We are taking part in the Great Offensive & you will be pleased to hear that the battalion has made its name by capturing a very strong German position. I have had greatness thrust upon me because I was lucky enough to chuck a bomb on a machine gun which was mowing our fellows down & putting it out of action.
The C.O. is highly delighted & I have also been congratulated by the Divisional General. He told me that I was to be recommended so that there is a chance of me getting a Military Cross or something of the sort. Talk about Luck! Fancy just chucking one bomb over and it was a bull’s eye.
Now as regards Blackpool. I know Rhoda will be very keen to go for it is very quiet at Wilmslow & I know (Illegible) will keep her alive. I will write straight away to give you her address & here is hers so that you can write to her & make arrangements.
Charnwood, Altringham Road, Wilmslow, nr Manchester.
I am sorry to hear that only 2 scholarships were won this year but if you beat the other schools that is good enough.
I must close now – give my best regards to all at school
P.S. Rhoda has just sent me the wedding card sent to Edith (illegible) – has she removed?
Bell had in fact been recommended for a Victoria Cross for the actions he describes, which took place during the ferocious first days of the Battle of the Somme. He was killed whilst carrying out a similar action in the face of enemy fire, three days after writing his letter to Miss Nicky,
His wife Rhoda, who is mentioned in the letter as being ‘very keen’ on a forthcoming visit to Blackpool, was presented with Bell’s VC, awarded posthumously, at Buckingham Palace later that summer.