Lt. J. H. Simpson

Lt. J. H. Simpson

Temporary Lieutenant James Hawthorne Simpson,
1st/West Riding Field Company, Royal Engineers

James Simpson, the oldest child of David and Louise Simpson, was born in Stourton part of Rothwell in south Leeds. He had a brother, Sydney, an auctioneer, and two sisters Esther Louise and Marjorie. He was a bachelor. His address in Scholes was The Cottage, Main Street. This is one of the oldest buildings in the village still in existence.

In civil life he was employed as a Traveller and Representative in the family business, Simpson, Fawcett & Company, of Black Bull Lane, Hunslet, pail and perambulator manufacturers, which had been set up by his grandfather. He moved to Scholes from Roundhay. Before the move and according to the 1901 census, the Simpson household was settled at High Road and was comfortable enough to be able to afford to employ a cook in the person of 33 years old, Sarah Somers who was originally from Bridgenorth, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

James Simpson was educated at Leeds Boys Modern School from 1890 to 1897. He was a pre-war Territorial Force Officer with the West Riding Royal Engineers (Leeds Territorials), who had originally been commissioned in April 1897. He resigned his commission in March 1908, giving the reason for this as pressure of business.

When War broke out he rejoined the Royal Engineers, although he was unable to return in his former rank of Captain.

He served in Gallipoli as part of the 29th Division. Like so many of his comrades, James Simpson suffered from diarrhoea almost constantly while he was on the peninsula. Fortunately this did not turn into dysentery, however his symptoms did worsen, giving him headaches, abdominal pain and a temperature, and all this was diagnosed as influenza and he was evacuated to the Hamrun Military Hospital on Malta.

The hospital environment did nothing for his condition and he failed to recover until he was transferred to England aboard the hospital ship HMHS Asturias, for a period of four months, now with a diagnosis of neurasthenia and dyspepsia. HMHS Asturias was the ship on which the author JRR Tolkien was evacuated from France aboard when as a 2nd Lieutenant he contracted Trench Fever. The Asturias was torpedoed during the war and some of her crew killed, but the ship survived and became a tourist cruise ship.

While in England he was a convalescent at 3rd Northern Hospital at Sheffield. On his recovery he was sent back to his unit, which by this time had been evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula and were now serving on the Western Front. James Simpson died of wounds at 87th Field Ambulance, the 29th Division's field ambulance. The field ambulance was the second link in the evacuation chain, in between the regimental aid post and the casualty clearing station, and so if a man died here it is likely that he was very recently wounded and too seriously wounded to have been sent back to the C.C.S.

Lieutenant Simpson’s death was announced in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Wednesday 12th July 1916 and featured a photograph of him in the solar helmet issued to troops in the Mediterranean Theatres.

James Simpson is also commemorated on the War Memorial at the now redundant St John's Church at Roundhay in Leeds. His parents were well known in the Roundhay area.