Josiah Simpson

Discussion in 'Looking for someone' started by Davy, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Davy

    Davy New Member

    I am wondering whether anyone could help me in my research into an old soldier from the BEF of 1914?

    His name was Josiah Simpson and he was a Private in the Second Battalion Grenadier Guards. I will tell you what little I know of him and also mention the parts of his story which puzzle me.

    01) He joined the 2nd Bn. G. Guards in 1909 and a story he recounted to me when I was a little lad was that when the Battalion embarked for France in August 1914, a few soldiers including himself travelled to France still in Guards’ ceremonial regalia as they had just come off guard duty. The rest of the Bn. Was in khaki, but due to a mix up he and his companion’s kit had been shipped with the rest including their khaki dress, thus wasn’t able to change into khaki until he reached the camp at Havre.
    02) I have read Major, Jeffreys’ diary extracts for the period (in J.M. Craster’s book “Fifteen rounds a minute” which covers the 2nd Bn. G. Guards from August 1914 to December 1914) and he doesn’t mention anything like that, but then he himself did not join the Battalion until after it had already arrived in France, also there is no mention of this small incident in Sir Frederick Ponsonby’s book “The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-19”.
    03) Josiah told me that he was present and fought at Mons and was involved in the retreat; my Grandmother told me that he had been wounded 3 times and had been mentioned in despatches, eventually being invalided out, due to a serious head wound. Indeed, he had a stainless steel plate surgically fixed in his skull which he carried ‘till he died.
    04) Josiah told me that his officer on reconnaissance had been killed when looking through binoculars, a bullet entering his head through one lens of the binoculars. At the same moment he (Josiah) was wounded and believing that his officer was still alive, he carried or dragged him back to safety, only to find that in fact he must have died instantly in fact. He told me that his officer was awarded (posthumously presumably) a Military Cross for his gallantry in the action in which he was killed, and I wonder if Josiah was “mentioned” also at that time?
    05) The above is all I really knew, until I managed to find his medal card (attached) and this raised a number of other knotty questions as follows:

    A) You can see from the medal card that he was Private 14275 Josiah Simpson 2nd Battalion Grenadiers, but that he appears to have transferred to the M.G. Guards where he has a new number 308. Now Josiah never mentioned machine guns to me, but it seemed likely to me that he may in fact have been a member of one of the two machine gun teams attached to the Battalion in those early days. This seemed strengthened by the story of his officer’s death and the binoculars, as I could well imagine that MG Officers and artillery officers would be equipped with field glasses which they would use to seek for targets for their guns.
    B) The medal card confirms that he was awarded the 1914 Star with clasp and roses, the War Medal and the Victory Medal and the SWB. The next puzzle is that there is no reference to being awarded the MID, and the qualifying date below the SWB entry is given as 17/9/14. It is this last that has proved the biggest puzzle to me. Some people have suggested that 17/9/14 was the date he originally arrived in France, but surely that can’t be right – I know he was present at the battle of Mons and in any case he seems to have been awarded the MONS Star! I began to wonder if the qualifying date of 17/9/14 referred to the award of the SWB i.e. when he received the final debilitating wound which led to his discharge.
    C) If I was correct and Josiah was in the MG section of the Battalion than it began to look as if the “officer” might have been Captain The Hon William Amherst Cecil who was Battalion MG Officer, KIA 16th September 1914 whilst reconnoitering for targets for his guns. This would fit with Josiah’s SWB date of 17th September 1914 and Capt Cecil also had the M.C. The account in Jeffrey’s diary has Cecil shot through the throat, but this may not necessarily be correct and Josiah’s version (if the officer was in fact Cecil) may well be right.
    D) Now I come to another puzzle Josiah apparently transferred to the MGG, but my research shows this embryo unit wasn’t formed until 1915, how could this be if Josiah was invalided out of the service in Sept 1914?

    Sorry for such a lengthy post, but I really am stuck at the moment and would greatly appreciate any help from the panel.

    Attached Files:

Share This Page