CWG: Stoker George Simpson

Stoker George Simpson

George Wilfred Simpson was born early in 1882, the second of seven children to Robert and Mary Simpson. Robert was a shipbuilder from Yorkshire, and the family were raised in Thornaby, on the River Tees near Middlesbrough.

Details of George’s early life are a bit patchy, but when he left school he found work as a warehouseman. He met Florence Unwin, who was born in Stockton-upon-Tees, and they married in the spring of 1906. They young couple set up home in the town and went on to have four children, all boys.

When the war came to Europe, George wanted to do his part. His full service records are not available, but he enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve as a Stoker at some point during the conflict. By the summer of 1917, he was based at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

The base was a particularly busy place at that point in the war and additional accommodation was desperately needed. Stoker Simpson found himself billeted at Chatham Drill Hall, away from the main barracks.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line, as the German Air Force launched a bombing raid. One of the bombs landed squarely on the Drill Hall, and Stoker Simpson was killed. He was just 35 years old.

Ninety-eight servicemen perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night. They were buried in a mass funeral at the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. This, too, is where George Wilfred Simpson was laid to rest.

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