South Oxford Community Centre

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66 men - George Simpson

Simpson GE 09-08-1916 p.7 smaller

Image from the
Oxford Journal Illustrated,
9 August 1916, p.7

George Edwin (or Edward) Lovell SIMPSON

George Simpson was born on 25 October 1896, the son of William Joseph and Elizabeth Simpson. William had been born in the Oxford parish of St Thomas's (immediately west of the castle) in the spring of 1867 and Elizabeth (née Dean or Deane) had been born in Windsor in 1867/68. The couple married in late 1889. In 1891 they were living at 29 Cardigan Street in Jericho, but by 1901 they had moved to 24 Cardigan Street. William was working as a bricklayer's labourer, and they had six children: James (born 1883 in Cowley, though this date suggests that he was not in fact their son); Dorothy (born 1890/91 in St Thomas's); William (born 1892/93 in St Thomas's); George (born 1896); Winifred (born 1898/99 in Coventry); and Robert (born 1900/01 in St Thomas's). By 1911 they had moved to 25 Cardigan Street, William was working as a carter and grocery porter, and a further three children had been born, all in St Thomas's (of which Jericho was part): Rirt [?Bert] (1903/04), Joseph (October 1904) and Olive (1909).

In 1911 George was working as a grocer's errand boy and his older sister Dorothy was working as a domestic servant and laundry maid. By 1913 the family had moved to Osney Island and were living at 105 Bridge Street. In 1915 they moved again, to 30 Marlborough Road in Grandpont.

George enlisted at Osney and was a Private in the 2/4 Battalion of the Oxf & Bucks Light Infantry (service no. 4317). This battalion had formed at Oxford in September 1914 as a second line unit of territorials (volunteers). Its members had not signed up to serve overseas and this remained their status until after conscription was introduced in 1916, when all single men of fighting age could be sent overseas whether they had agreed or not. The battalion landed in France on 24 May 1916 and moved to the Somme. George was killed less than two months later, on 19 July 1916, at the Battle of Fromelles, 50 miles north of the Somme. He was 20. On that day the 2/4 Battalion went over the top in support of the 1/1 Bucks Battalion in a disastrous attempt to keep the Germans opposite away from the Somme front. John Smith died of wounds in the same place four days later.

George was buried at Laventie Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, France. Because his family lived on Osney Island in the early part of the War, he is also commemorated on the St Frideswide's war memorial.

George's oldest brother James died in April 1914 and his younger sister Winifred died in September 1917. His older sister Dorothy married William Bailey and moved to Weirs Lane at the far southern end  of Abingdon Road. They had two sons, Robert and Joe. Robert had a son, also called Robert, who grew up on Weirs Lane but who now lives on Edith Road in Grandpont. George's other younger sister Olive, who worked as a kitchen maid, got married at St Matthew's church in September 1929, at the age of 19. Her husband was Ernest Whittington, aged 24, a labourer of 44 Thames Street, St Aldates. She died in Oxford in 1995. George's other siblings William and Joseph died in 1973 and 1995 respectively. Their mother Elizabeth had died in Oxford in 1945 and their father William in 1956.

With thanks to Vicky Ford, great great niece of George Simpson, and to Rosamund Bailey, wife of Robert Bailey, great nephew of George Simpson, for additional information.

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