William Herbert Mostyn SIMPSON was born in June 1893. He was the son of William Francis Joseph Simpson, who was the grandson of calico printer William Simpson, who had married Emily Cranmer in 1818, and had inherited the Cranmer estates which included the Canons and Park Place.
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, W. H. M. Simpson joined up and was granted a commission as a lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment. He was amongst the first of the British Forces to see action in Belgium, and was mortally wounded at Wolferghem, dying five days before Christmas Day 1914. He is buried at the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. A memorial stone is in the parish churchyard, near the family tomb which is close to the entrance of the church.
The shock of his death was such that his mother became seriously ill, and was confined to a wheelchair. His parents left Mitcham before the end of the War and sold Park Place.
Source : Eric Montague’s Mitcham Histories : 11 The Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place pp 131-132.
From the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 1st January 1915:
DEATH OF LIEUT. SIMPSON
Another well-known and respected name in Mitcham has to be added to the already long list of those who have given their lives for King and Country. Last week, news was received of the death of Lieutenant W.H.M. Simpson, elder son of Mr W.F.J. Simpson, which took place in the Boulogne Military Hospital from wounds received in battle. Lieut Simpson was only 21 years of age.
Mrs Simpson received the following letter from the Roman Catholic Chaplain :-
I regret to inform you that Lieutenant Simpson was brought in dangerously wounded last night, 18th inst. He asked for a priest immediately, and I found him in full possession of his faculties, and wearing his rosary medal and crucifix. I heard his confession and gave him all the sacraments. I called again this morning at 7:30, after my mass, but he was sinking rapidly, and passed away peacefully whilst I was saying the prayer for the dying. The poor boy had been shot through the neck and the spine, and did not suffer much. He made a most beautiful death, asking pardon of God for all his past life, and offering up his young life in accordance with God’s holy will. May God give you courage and strength to bear this cross, and I should not forget him in Holy Mass.
Yours in sympathy,
Peter Grobel, Chaplain to the Forces.”
The Simpson family is one of the oldest in Mitcham, having first resided here in 1690.
His death was reported in national newspapers:
Newcastle Journal – Wednesday 23 December 1914
Lieutenant W. H. M. Simpson (died of wounds on December 19, in hospital at Boulogne) was gazetted to the 3rd Battalion East Surrey Regiment September 6 of this year. He was the eldest son of Mr W. F. J. Simpson, of Mitcham, Surrey.
Surrey Mirror – Friday 25 December 1914
SIMPSON—Died of wounds Dec. 19th, at Stationary Hospital Boulogne. Lieut. W. H. M. Simpson, East Surrey Regt., eldest son William F. J. Simpson, Mitcham, aged twenty-one.