Private Edwin Simpson WW1

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CTNana, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    I was trying to get a photograph of this Gentleman's grave for Sniper but sadly it is now illegible. A local historian has just sent me this copy which was taken in the 1960's and understand that he is to be part of a local history feature this autumn.

    I would love to be able to provide the History Society with some more details and know that you guys could save me a great deal of work by just pointing me in the right direction. There is a discrepancy in the Service number shown and that according to CWGC records; is this significant? Any advice will be very gratefully received.

    p.s. Sniper if you are reading this do you want a copy? (Don't know who to credit it to though!!)

    Attached Files:

  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Hi Nana

    I don't think it is a mistake on the memorial - looks more like a 6 than an 8, and it's just the weathering/pixels. The shape seems more similar to the other 6 than the 8.

    What info are you after? A general history of the 78th during that period?
  3. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    A basic outline:

    The 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers) was part of the 12th Infantry Brigade, which was part of the 4th Canadian Division.

    4th Division

    12th Infantry Brigade

    The Brigades Diary has been photostated and is available to view online:


    No 12 covers the period during which Simpson was injured.

    Your historian friend may like to examine the original documents.
  4. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    I read 624687? but CWGC have 826506.

    He was apparently the first person in his area to volunteer (and sadly the first to be killed too). He was taken from Vimy Ridge to a hospital in Halifax where he died some 7 weeks later.

    His family have given me a lovely photograph of him and a very long newspaper cutting of the military funeral afforded him. I presume that the Historical Society will focus on his Northamptonshire ties but having just read about Vimy Ridge it would be nice to put his sacrifice into the perspectives of the battle, his regiment and WW1 (if that isn't too tall an order).

    My email has just dinged (you're too quick for me Kyt, but I just knew you would know where to look). I'm sure my Historian contact who has been tremendously helpful regarding my photos, would love to access those documents and is probably way ahead of me anyway!!!
  5. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Hi Nana

    this is our man - 826506 is a WW2 casualty

    Initials: E W
    Nationality: Canadian
    Rank: Private
    Regiment/Service: Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)
    Unit Text: 78th Bn.
    Age: 20
    Date of Death: 30/05/1917
    Service No: 624687
    Additional information: Son of Walter and Margaret Ann Simpson, of Leduc, Alberta, Canada.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 229. (In South part of new ground).
  6. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    Sapper Percy James in fact - oh no yet another senior moment! I've queried it with CWGC and his family but it was me reading the line above on the next page of a print out!!!!!

    Moving swiftly on .....

    His funeral seems to have been a very grand affair with a "war wagon draped with the Union Jack and drawn by four mules" and "a gun detail, in double file with arms reversed". Was that normal practice?
  7. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    oh so temped to make some joke but I shan't :>

    The horse/mule and carriages does sound rather grand to us but was a sign of the local community's esteem for the ward casualties at that time. And the numbers who died and were buried in Britain during WW1, as oppossed to in France itself, were very small, and so most funerals would have been well organised, attended and reported.

    Adrian is well read on WW1 and I'm sure he'll be able to shed some light on this.
  8. rlaughton


    Edwin William Simpson - Canada Remembers You!

    The Canadian arrives with information. Maybe new, maybe old, but we are Canadian and we live with these issues. Some of this may be repetitive but I like to form a paper trail, or a cyber trail, so that anyone (including myself) can go back and check it later. Days, months or years, who knows. We are looking at a lad that is 111 years old so who knows what our great grandchildren will be doing. They might just "beam over" to the graveyard and have a look for themselves. Think I am kidding? Ask Edwin if he thought we would be sending e-mail around the world in search of his records.

    So as for Edwin William Simpson:

    His Attestation Papers at Library and Archives Canada

    From the Summary Table and references we know that he attested to the 151st Infantry Battalion out of Strathcona, Alberta. The unit had an initial strength of 925 men but it never served as a "fighting unit". Stewart tells us it was absorbed by the 11th and 21st Reserve Battalions to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. That does not help us in our hunt as it was the 18th Reserve that reinforced the 78th Infantry Battalion. Off to check Love's reference and he tells us that the 151st also fed men to the 9th Reserve Battalion, but same result as the 21st absorbed the 9th. Meek agrees with Love (all the reference documents are noted on the Matrix) and so that is the end of that path. What that tells us is that he did not go to the 78th in a group, he was sent there as an individual when the 78th needed reinforcements.

    The 78th Battalion was a major fighting unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It was in the 12th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Canadian Division, the last full division to be sent into the Great War from Canada (the 5th Division was dismantled in England to provide reserves for the 4 Divisions in France).

    We know that Private Simpson was wounded at the infamous Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917 - a major date in Canadian History. Given what went on that day it is unlikely he would be mentioned in the war diaries. However, since we did do a Vimy Ridge War Diary Project last year we know the records are detailed. Follow the page in that link down to the 4th Division, then to the 12th Infantry Brigade and to the 78th Battalion and you have the War Diary Page for April 9, 1917. Not too much there, they were very busy, but if you look at the page for the Vimy Project you will see also that there are pages in the appendices that are highlighted. Most Canadian war diaries have the details (often with maps) in the appendices. You can walk through any of the pages by just changing the last digit in the URL address. I will leave it to each of you to read the details, they can be summarized.

    As for the battle, we can also take you to where the 4th Division was fighting on April 9, 1917. My best recollection was that the 4th Division was responsible for taking the PIMPLE, the hill to the north of Vimy. You can see exactly where the 78th Division was located if you head back to the Matrix and follow the Nicholson Matrix Utility (text and maps) to the battle location. The complete story of the Canadians at Vimy Ridge is detailed in Chapter 8 and the location of each of the units is shown on Map 7. For the real curious follower of the Great War I will leave it to you to then follow Map 7 onto Google Earth Map 7 so you can see where those locations are on a modern map of France. You will see the 78th Battalion at the front of the line, just south of Givenchy-en-Gohelle. On page 261, Nicholson reports that the 78th Battalion was under fire from Hill 145 (the principal objective of the 4th Division) and had a difficult fight. That I must presume is where Private Simpson was wounded, along with 25% of the battalion.

    That is the war story of Private Edwin William Simpson, but then there is the family story of the man. Why was he in Canada, why was he taken back to Halifax when he was wounded, and then more intriguing is the question as to why he was taken back to Pytchley to be buried? We CAN order his service record and track all the details. It takes about 4 weeks to get the records and costs only about $30 Canadian, so if there is a real interest I will order his records and we should know the rest of the story by early May. That will tell us exactly how he got from the 151st to the 78th and how he ended up in Halifax. Sometimes there are surprises and you find out that is not what happened at all!

    Stepping back in time a few years, I did find that Edwin William Simpson was in Strathcona, Alberta in 1911 as he and his family are listed in the 1991 Canadian Census. It appears today that it is a small county outside of the main city and capital EDMONTON, Alberta. You will see the SIMPSON FAMILY with the following members:

    1. Walter Simpson, Head/Father October 1870
    2. Dorothy Simpson, Mother October 1870
    3. Edwin W Simpson, son February 1897
    4. Arthe? Simpson, son June 1898
    5. Albert Simpson, son May 1901
    6. Edith Simpson, daughter 1903
    7. Charles Simpson, son 1905
    8. Allis Simpson, daughter 1907

    Now as I have been told that attempts to find his brother in Bitten Lake, Alberta have been unsuccessful and that he likes to communicate by e-mail I must say MOST IMPRESSED as all of these family members are 100+ in age! Extra bonus find is that the family was there in 1901 as well as Edwin is listed in the 1901 Census.

    Last item I should report is that Edwin William Simpson is listed at this link on the Virtual War Museum. That then takes you to his page on the VERY OFFICIAL Book of Remembrance in the main Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. This is a major item to see in in our Nation's Capital as each and every day of every year, the page is turned so you can see who is listed. Here is the page with Edwin William Simpson. You can order an official colour copy of that page if you wish.

    I mention the VAC Virtual War Memorial as any pictures or items of Edwin Stanley Simpson should be submitted there and they will be added to his memorial. I would be pleased to do that on behalf of the group, if everyone can e-mail me their best copies of any pictures or documents.

    I am sure I have missed something in all of this but I will add anything I missed or find at a later date.

    Before I go, just a quick thanks to Edwin for what he did to make sure we could all be here today.

  9. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    Thank you so much Richard

    You've just joined the heady heights of the rest of these guys (& girls)!

    Doesn't it just go to show how much information you can glean if you know where to look?

    I understand that he is buried in Pytchley because the family originated from there. He is in a family grave along with George Mobbs our local rugby hero after whom the famous cup is named.

    I do have a small photo of him and a copy of the newspaper report of his funeral (although it is not a particularly good copy maybe it is possible to ascertain which local paper it was and get a better copy) and would seek his surviving brother's consent before forwarding them elsewhere.

    Thank you again
  10. rlaughton



    I have sent you a PM with the local details that I could find. That place in Alberta does exist!

    Also, as I can put in here but not in a PM (or can I?) is this the cemetery where he is buried?


    If so, if someone is near to there can they:

    - get a photo of the graveyard, as I have a contact at CWGC who will then upload that onto the CWGC site (I have a few for Canada on their now - they love the snow!)

    - a new photo or 2 of the stone relative to some landmarks

    - if possible a site map of the cemetery, to place his marker on Google Earth and also to give to CWGC (they say he is a marker 229 in the south or new part of the cemetery)



    (see I am sidetracked again .... I came here to see more about WWII!) ... but I love it, the best of all worlds!

    I have a brother in law who is nuts about the Napoleonic Wars so I will send him over as well.
  11. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    Hi Richard
    I couldn't get the link to work but he is definitely in the family grave of George Mobbs in Pytchley in Northamptonshire.

    I have a photo taken in 1960's and my own taken recently but the inscription is totally illegible. The CWGC must also know the location because they sent the local representative to check after I asked them if they could re-etch the lettering. They have agreed and the work is due to be done some time this year. I wanted to get his younger brother's confirmation that the information that I have is accurate and his permission distribute the rest of the information in my possession.

    Pytchley is only a few miles away from me and I have no problem in returning to take some more photos. I was given to understand that there is not a plan of the cemetery (no idea how they determine where any new graves should be dug!!!) but I can easily pin point it. I don't know how to set a marker on Google , happy to do so if someone would like to tell me how.

    Thanks again Richard.
  12. rlaughton


    I did not put in a link .... ah, maybe the photo link?

    Is it not public??
  13. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    Yes it is my overly sensitive Parental Controls (in case the grandchildren use the computer!!!).

    Walter's wife's name is Myrtle and I have tried searching on M too but to no avail. Can anyone's details be withheld? Is it daytime over there yet Richard. I may try phoning a few of them.
  14. rlaughton


    Check my clock at any time, it has London as well so you can tell what time it is here in Canada:

    Richard's World Clock
  15. sniper

    sniper Active Member

    Yes Please CT, also if you have further information on him i'd love to be able to add tis to his records.

    Sniper :peep:
  16. rlaughton



    I have faxed in the request for his service record to Ottawa. It should arrive here in Milton toward the end of April. As soon as it does arrive I will scan it and place it on my web site so you can download the document.

    I will also go through the service file and put together a summary time line as it will probably mean more to me, having already done a number of searches. It is much like the British Medal Cards, you get the "hang of it" after a while.

  17. rlaughton


    Edwin's records have arrived from Ottawa, they have been scanned, a summary was prepared, his blog site is now live ...... and now we await CTNana's release of this information to the rest of the world!

    And who would have ever known that there was a HALIFAX in both England and Canada - that sure helped to clear up the mystery.
  18. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    I am a mere Aussie and I knew!

    Where is my lollie?

    And just for your interest: George Montagu Dunk, 1716-1771

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