Walter Boughey and Richard Bradley

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Map of the Area Covered by The Grange Hill Memorial

I am very grateful to David Silcock for drawing this map, based on contemporary records, showing the townships with which the people listed on the Grange Hill War Memorial were associated. If you wish to download and use it, kindly acknowledge this blog and David Silcock.

Click on the following link to open it:

Map of the West Kirby Area 1914

I intend to write a page which explains the local  historical and geographical background in due course, wherein this map and other sources will be posted again.

 

Reginald Simister, William Matthias Simpell and Charles Ledward Smith

 

REGINALD SIMISTER

Reg Simister
Reg Simister

The West Kirby Simisters were butchers who originated in Southport. Most bearers of the surname were and are to be found in the Manchester area. This is unsurprising because the village of the same name lies just north of Prestwich. Reg and his five siblings were born in Bolton. His father, William John Simister (b.1869), shared a business with his brother, Thomas Hesketh Simister (b.1866). This advertisement from the Green Book reveals the location of their shops.

Simpell Business Advert from the "Green Book" of 1911
Simister Business Advert from the “Green Book” of 1911

Reg joined the King’s Liverpools in the city on 25th October 1915. He was 5’ 8” tall and had a 36½” chest with a 3” expansion. He weighed 140lbs and had a “good” physique. He sailed for France on 2nd April 1916 from Southampton on the SS Lydia and arrived at Rouen on 6th April. He became part of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division at the base depot. Reg left the base on 20th April and joined his battalion in the field the next day. He was “temporarily attached” to the 9th Battalion on 20th May.

Reg died on the second day of the Battle of the Somme. His friend Henry Poole, who had been with him since arriving in France described Reg’s death: he was in a dugout which was buried by an exploding shell. “A big reserve party set to work, and poor Reg was quite dead on reaching him.” Henry assured the Simisters that Reg had suffered no pain and that he received “a decent Christian burial”. He also said, “I found him a very kind chum, and well liked by all who knew him”. Reg’s possessions – a pocket wallet containing letters and photographs, a New Testament, a cigarette case, a pair of scissors, a jack knife, a Post Office savings book, a waterproof case, a housewife and some letters – were sent home on 22nd September 1916. His medals were posted on 31st March 1921. Reg’s brother William survived the war having fought with the 1st/4th Cheshires at Suvla Bay.

Notes
Birth: January1897 in Bolton, Lancashire
Death: 2nd July 1916
Addresses: 44 Stewart Street, Bolton (01), Rivington, 14 North Road West Kirby (11-16)
Occupation: Butcher
Units: 1st/6th Bn The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) attached to the 1st/9th Bn.
Number and Rank: 4049 Rifleman
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, France: Wailly Orchard Cemetery I.D.8.
Sources: BR, SDGW, SR, MC, BN, DA, LE, FT, GB, Census: 01, 11

WILLIAM MATTHIAS SIMPELL

Willie Simpell was associated with West Kirby via his father, Andrew Simpell (1859-1917) and with Liverpool via his mother Elizabeth Ann Stephens (1865-1934). The couple got married in Birkenhead in 1894, which is where Willie was born. By 1901 they were living in West Derby. Andrew was a decorator, but later became a signwriter based in West Kirby. Willie attended West Kirby School and the Laird School of Arts in Birkenhead. By 1911, he was himself a signwriter and artist, living with his mother in Liverpool, while his father was lodging in the house of James Stanley Hatton on Elm Grove in West Kirby. We do not know why the couple were living apart, but the Deeside Advertiser reported that Willie had frequently worked with his father, which is why he was “well known and highly popular” in the area.

Willie joined the Royal Army Medical Corps – an important and greatly underestimated unit, which grew from having 9,000 members in 1914 to 115,000 in 1918 – on 9th September 1914 in Liverpool. He was 5’9” tall and had a 36” chest with a 2” expansion. His skin was sallow, his eyes grey and his hair brown. He had no blemishes or distinguishing marks. His unit became part of the 29th Division in January 1915.

On 18th March 1915 he arrived on the Gallipoli Peninsula, but was sent back to Cairo on 10th September, suffering from dysentery and went to a rest camp in Abbasiya ten days later. One month later he embarked on the SS Canada and arrived back in Gallipoli on 12th November. Willie suffered several more medical problems, including a scabies infestation when he was hospitalised in Cairo once again, but the other entries in his records are unreadable. He sailed from Port Suez on 13th March 1916 and arrived in Marseilles a week later. From there he travelled to the Western Front. Perhaps he was wounded whilst serving in the Arras area and was taken back to the largest military base in France at Etaples, where he died.

His commanding officer said that Willie was “… one of those for whom I entertained the highest esteem and regard. Quiet, unassuming, always ready to do his duty or oblige his fellows, he had won a high place in the esteem of his comrades.” His possessions – a letter and six unopened letters, postcards, photographs, two pipe bowls, a razor strop, two writing pads, a leather wallet, a will and sundry papers, a note book, a New Testament, two handkerchiefs, a shaving brush and soap, tooth brush and paste, a razor in a case, six unopened letters and a nine carat gold ring – were sent home to his mother at 7 Morpeth Street, Liverpool on 1st June 1918 (see below).

Willie Simpell's Property
Willie Simpell’s Property

The Liverpool Echo of 6th June 1917 carried Willie’s obituary: “ A bitter grief, a shock severe/ To part with one we loved so dear:/ Loved on earth, regretted, gone/ Remembered in the grave/ By his sorrowing mother and only sister Lilly.” Beneath it, was a similar notice by Willie’s uncles, G. And W. Stephens, bakers and flour-dealers of Liverpool.

Willie’s mother Elizabeth, died at 9, Brooke Road, Walton in Liverpool on 4th November 1934 and bequeathed her estate, worth £125 1s, to her younger brother Walter Stephens (born 1878), a baker.

Notes
Birth: 13th June 1895 in Claughton, Birkenhead
Death: 18th May 1917, died of wounds
Addresses 31/33 Holden Street, West Derby (01), 334(?), Binns Road, Liverpool (01), 39 Minshull Street, Liverpool (17)
Occupations: Artist and Signwriter
Unit: 1st West Lancashire Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
Number and Rank: 337272 Private
Medals: 1914-15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, France: Etaples Military Cemetery XVIII. 0.15.
Sources: BR, SDGW, SR, DeR, DA, Census: 01, 11

CHARLES LEDWARD SMITH

Charles belonged to a wealthy family whose roots were in Liverpool and Birkenhead. His mother was Harriett Ledward (born in 1849), daughter of Septimus Ledward Esq. J.P. (1845-1906) of Hill Bark in Frankby. She married Mr Jerome Smith (1845-1906), Cotton Broker, in April 1874 in Frankby. In 1911, the family was living at Hill Bark. There were six servants, who came from Frankby, Liverpool and North Wales. Only two of Charles’s siblings – Evelyn and Frances were still at home. Harriett, Rachel and Jerome had, therefore, moved out (see below).

1911 Census Charles Ledward Smith
1911 Census Charles Ledward Smith’s Family at “Hill Bark” in Frankby

Charles joined the army, but died in London not long after obtaining his commission.

Notes
Birth: June 1880 in Birkenhead
Death: 13th November 1915, died of illness, aged 35
Address: Hill Bark, Frankby (1911 – 1915)
Occupation: Cotton Broker
Unit: Royal Field Artillery
Rank: Lieutenant
Commemorated and Buried: GH, F, ?
Sources: BR, LM, LG, Census: 91, 11

Charles Hazlehurst

CHARLES HAZLEHURST

Charles Hazlehurst was first cousin to another Hoylake soldier who died on the Somme – Edward Grisdale. They shared a grandfather – Jonathan Grisdale, who was born in Whitehaven in 1822 and died in Hoylake in 1874. Jonathan’s son, John Lowther Grisdale (1850-1909), was Edward Grisdale’s father. His sister, Mary Caroline Grisdale (1853-1921), married George Hazlehurst (1847-1899) in 1878. In 1901, the widowed Mary Caroline Hazlehurst was living with her family at 94 Market Street, Hoylake. Two of her sisters, Hannah and Eleanor Watson Grisdale, aged 53 and 43 respectively, and both living on their own means were living just off Market Street in the next property. Both of them were spinsters. By 1911 Charles and his family were living in a seven-roomed house on Sycamore Grove in Hoylake. His widowed mother was described as being a blacksmith, as were his brothers, John Thomas and Sidney. His eldest brother George was a painter and Charles himself was a butcher.

RMS Aquitania
RMS Aquitania

The Deeside Advertiser of 10th May 1918 said that he had been a seaman for about six years and had done several voyages on the giant Cunarder, the RMS Aquitania (pictured above), a beautiful vessel which was launched in 1913, was scrapped in 1950 and was, therefore, the longest serving passenger ship of the 20thC.

Deeside Advertiser 10th May 1918
Deeside Advertiser 10th May 1918

The above-mentioned edition of the Deeside Advertiser gives us a few details about Charles’s military career: he joined an unnamed battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in Chester in about March 1917 and was at the front by June of that year. At some point, he was transferred to the Inniskilling Fusiliers. The 7th and 8th battalions had been amalgamated on 23rd August 1917 and were part of 49th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division. Charles died on the first day of the German Spring Offensive; he was killed at Gouzeaucourt in the Somme sector. In fact, his unit experienced so many losses that it was reduced to cadre strength on 22 April 1918 and surplus troops were transferred to 2nd Royal Irish Regiment.

Charles’s mother had to cope not only with the news of his death, but also the news that another son, Jack had been wounded for a second time and that Sidney, whom nobody had seen for four years, was suffering from enteric fever in India. Her eldest son, George, was also serving. Following Mary’s death on 30th December 1921 at 10 Shaw Street, Hoylake, her estate, worth £825 19s 6d, passed to her sons Jonathan Watson Hazlehurst, blacksmith and George Hazlehurst, printer. This healthy sum of money is testament to the family’s hard work, cohesion and perseverance, despite the appalling stresses and bereavements of the Great War.

Notes
Birth: c.1891 in Hoylake
Death: 21st March 1918, killed in action aged 27
Addresses: 94 Market Street, Hoylake (01), Sycamore Grove, Hoylake (11-18)
Occupations: Butcher (11), Seaman (c.1911-1917)
Units: Cheshire Regiment and 7th/8th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Number and Rank: 62348 41919 Private
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H. France: Somme, Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery II. D. 21.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, GB, FT, Census: 01, 11