The Simpson household must have been pretty lively with
eight children and lots of comings and goings to Canterbury Baptist,
not far away from their home at Daphne Street Canterbury.
As was the case for many Australian soldiers early in the
hostilities, he saw action first in Egypt. His unit disembarked at
Marseilles, in the south of France on 29 June 1916, and travelled to
the north of France. On 19 July 1916 his 59th Battalion was engaged
in that fateful battle of Fromelles, the worst 24 hour period ever in
Australia’s history, with over 5,500 deaths or injuries.
His death and missing remains remained painful for his family, as this notice reveals from The Argus 20 December 1916.
MISSING SOLDIER. Mr and Mrs R. Simpson of Daphne street, Canterbury, would be grateful if any returned soldier or their friends could supply them with any information regarding their son, Private W. S. Simpson, No. 3,239, B Company, 59th Battalion,15th Infantry Brigade, who has been reported "missing" since July 19. A note in his military papers in the NAA records: ‘Presume buried in No Man’s Land appro 5J90 43 to 5K02.5.1 Sheet Hazebrouck 5A.’ Furthermore, it is assumed he is buried in an unknown grave in the VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial at Fromelles. He is memorialised with his name on Panel 17
Birth: 11 September 1889 Collingwood
Enlistment: 30 July 1915
Address at Enlistment: Daphne Street, Canterbury
Occupation at Enlistment: Home Missionary
Military Number: 3239
Joined: 23rd Battalion, 7th
Age: 25 years old
Height: 5’6 ½” (169 cm) Eyes and Hair: Blue eyes, dark brown hair Next of Kin: Father, Robert Simpson Embarked: 26 November 1915 Death: 19 July 1916 killed in action, Fleurbaix, France