Arthur Simpson, Private 5630, 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Died 20th July 1916 in the Somme, France, aged 21
Arthur Simpson was born on 30th September and baptised on 18th November 1894 at Christ Church, Macclesfield, the son of Elizabeth and William Simpson, a butcher of 72 Chestergate, Macclesfield. In 1901, six year old Arthur was living at that address with his parents and younger sister Edith, aged three.
Arthur was educated at the Mill Street Wesleyan Day school, followed by the Modern School (later part of Macclesfield Grammar School). While at school he gained first prize at the annual swimming gala held at the Corporation Baths; he was a well-known local sportsman and played cricket with the Macclesfield Cricket Club.
In 1911 the family was still at the same address and also included Frank, then aged eighteen, and nine year old Doris; Arthur had left school and was employed as an architect’s clerk at the office of Messrs. Whittaker and Bradburn, architects, King Edward Street, Macclesfield. Arthur later trained as a surveyor in Manchester.
On the outbreak of war, Arthur enlisted in Manchester with the Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools Battalion). He trained at Caterham and Woodcourt, and was drafted to France on 15th November 1915. He saw action at the start of the Battle of the Somme and was reported missing after he was last seen on 20th July 1916. He was later assumed to have died on or shortly after that date.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 4 May 1917:
PRIVATE A SIMPSON’S FATE – NOW PRESUMED TO BE DEAD
Mr W Simpson, butcher, Chestergate, has received an official intimation presuming the death of his son, Private Arthur Simpson, of the Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools Battalion), who was reported missing after the Battle of the Somme on July 20th, 1916.
Born in Macclesfield twenty-two years ago, Private Simpson commenced his education at the Mill Street Wesleyan Day school, and afterwards went to the Modern School. On leaving there he took up a position as clerk at the office of Messrs. Whittaker and Bradburn, architects, King Edward Street, and at the time of enlistment was studying in Manchester for a surveyor. Private Simpson joined the Army on the outbreak of war, and after training at Caterham and Woodcourt, was drafted to France in November 1915. He was a well-known local sportsman and played cricket with the Macclesfield Club. While at school he gained first prize at the annual swimming gala held at the Corporation Baths. His brother, Private Frank Simpson, is serving in Salonika with the motor transport, A.S.C. Prior to enlistment he assisted his father in the conduct of the business, and was drafted out six months ago.
Private Arthur Simpson has no known grave and is named on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A of the Thiepval Memorial in Somme, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Arthur Simpson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “To the glory of God and in memory of the members of the Parish Church Men’s Bible Class. Private J. Smallwood, Private B. Nunn, Private J. Hanna, Private S, Gibbon, Gunner C. H. Barratt, Private F. Wilson, Corporal F. J. Shaw, Private H. Bradbury, Private W. Savage, Private A. Simpson, Private A. Holt, Lance-Corporal H. J. Travis, Private C. Davenport, M.M., Private W. Webster, Private J. Downes, Private J. N. Dixon, Private C. Bailey, Private H. Bradley.”
Brother of Frank Simpson, who was born in 1893, served in Salonika as Private 222389 with the Motor Transport A.S.C. and survived the war. Frank married Alice Bell in 1922 at St George’s Church, Sutton, and by 1939 he was running his father’s butchery business at 72 Chestergate. Frank died in Macclesfield in 1967, aged 74.
Arthur’s sister Edith Simpson, born in 1897, attended Macclesfield Girls High School for a few months in 1911, was employed in the millinery business and married Arthur Hobson, a joiner, in 1921 at Trinity Methodist Church, Macclesfield. The couple lived in Chester Road.
Arthur’s sister Doris Simpson, born in 1901, lived in Great King Street with her widowed father after he retired, and died unmarried in 1949.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Cheshire BMD: Marriages
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 4 May 1917, 23 Sept 1921 (photo supplement)
The 1939 Register (Find My Past)