Gibraltar born right winger Edward Bell began his football career with South Farnborough and had a short period on the books of Crystal Palace as an amateur in February 1907, when he made a small number of appearances in the reserve team in the London and Western League, without making the first eleven. After a trial with Portsmouth, Bell was signed by Southampton of the Southern League in March 1907. He went straight into the team, making two appearances at outside right in April as a replacement for triallist J. Patten; both matches, against Queens Park Rangers and Fulham, ended in 3-0 defeats. Bell made two more appearances in the 1907-08 season, as a replacement for John Bainbridge and was released at the end of the season. Bell returned to South Farnborough and was re-instated as an amateur, working as a Government Contracts Inspector.
During the First World War, he joined the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment (the “Footballers’ Battalion”), achieving the rank of Captain. In July 1916, his commanding officer, Major Frank Buckley (later to become manager of several football clubs, including Blackpool, Wolves and Leeds United) was wounded at Delville Wood, and Bell assumed command of the Battalion. In October 1916, he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the battle. The citation states:
“Finding himself in command of the battalion he repelled a counter-attack with great determination. On another occasion he rescued several men from a blown-in dugout.”
Following the disbanding of the Battalion in February 1918, Bell was attached to the 99th Infantry Brigade. He was killed aged 32 on 24th March 1918 in the Battle of the Somme and buried at the Albert Communal Cemetery.
In July 1918, he received a posthumous “bar” to his Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The citation reads:
“While holding a section of the front line he located and supervised the formation of forward dumps of ammunition and material. He carried out the work in daylight close to the enemy, and often under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire.”