Harry Hargreaves Simpkin


Captain (T), 13th Battalion Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Regiment)

Killed in Action 22nd March 1918 aged 22

No Known Grave Commemorated Arras Memorial, France

Son of John William and Emily Simpkin

Lived Joan Royd, Heckmondwike

Harry was born in 1895 in Midsomer Norton, Somerset and baptised there on 10th July 1895. His parents, John William Simpkin, a Mining Engineer from Drighlington, and Emily Wilson of Morley, had married on 16th August 1893 at St Peter’s Church, Morley. The couple then moved to Midsomer Norton where John had taken a job as an Instructor in Mining Engineering for the Somerset County Council. Their first child Arthur Wilson Simpkin had been born in 1894 and his parents took him back to their native Yorkshire for his baptism at St Peter's Church in Morley on 15th July. Their third son Stanley Furness was baptised on 15th April 1898 in Midsomer Norton.

The three sons were privately educated at the King Edward School, Bath where they took a prominent and active part in cricket and the Officers Training Corps (OTC). The OTC had been formed by the Government in 1908 to address the shortage of officers and the junior division was based in the private schools.

Their father, John William, was one of six brothers and two sisters who lived with their parents, Jonathan Simpkin and Selena Hargreaves, at the Colliery House at Joan Royd Colliery, White Lee Road, Heckmondwike having lived first at Ferry Fryston, Yorkshire. Travers Simpkin, one of the six brothers of John William Simpkin, and uncle to Arthur, Harry and Stanley enrolled in the Honourable Artillery Company. He was killed on 3rd May 1917 aged 37.

The Yorkshire Regiment website records that “The brothers, Harry Hargreaves and Arthur Wilson Simpkin, joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and first saw service with the Notts and Derby Regiment. They served together with the 13th Battalion and crossed from Southampton to Le Havre on June 6th 1916. The brothers saw action in the Loos and Lens sectors in 1916 and in early 1917 were engaged on the Somme. On November 23rd 1917 they were in action during the Cambrai offensive and took part in bitter fighting at the capture of Bourlon Wood and village. When the German spring offensive opened in March 1918 the two Simpkin Captains were rushed up to Hamelincourt and from the rear into trenches east of St Leger”.

The War Diary of 13th Battalion gives the following information:-

“St LEGER Sunken Rd. B4b. 22nd March 1918. At 7am Capt. H.H. Simpkin of the “D” Coy with two platoons made a bombing attack on the portion of the trench occupied by the enemy and succeeded in clearing the trench, killing about 20 of the enemy and capturing 7 Machine Guns. Within a few minutes however the enemy counter-attacked in force, estimated at 300, and drove out the party, Capt. H.H. Simpkin being killed and 2/Lieut. E.E. Wood severely wounded”.

His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Arras War Memorial, Bay 5.

In September 1919, a handsome silver challenge cup was presented to King Edward's School by Mr J W Simpkin, formerly of Midsomer Norton, in memory of his three sons to be awarded annually for proficiency in cricket. In August 1925 Harry Hargreaves Simpkin and Arthur Wilson Simpkin were named in remembrance on a brass plaque unveiled to eleven cricket club members at the Midsomer Norton cricket pavilion.{KH-ex5}

Medals: Victory and British War Medals

Commemorated: St Saviour’s Memorial now in Heckmondwike Parish Church (Harry Hargreaves Simpson); Memorial Book (as Hepburn H Simpkin): Harry H. Simpkin on Green Park Memorial. The Midsomer Norton Cricket Club Memorial Plaque and Midsomer Norton War Memorial.

The copyright image of Harry used on this webpage is from the Imperial War Museum "Bond of Sacrifice" collection, the reference is Harry Hargreaves Simpkin © IWM (HU 119136). This image and other related ones can be viewed in the Imperial War Museum "Bond of Sacrifice" collection by clicking on the link below:-

Harry Hargreaves Simpkin © IWM (HU 119136)

An article written by Robert Coulson for the Yorkshire Regiment Website can be viewed by following this link.

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