Charles Simpson

royal fusiliers regimental badgePrivate, 281298 (was 3602) 1/4th (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers), London Regiment, killed in action, 16th August 1917, aged 31

Born in Islington, London in 1886, Charles was the son of Isaac Simpson an Islington publican. On the outbreak of war he had enlisted in the 4th Battalion London Regiment, actually a Territorial Unit of the Royal Fusiliers, at Shaftsbury Street in London and went to France with them on 8th May 1915.

However he was back in Britain in 1916 as on 15th December 1916 Charles married Emily Ann (Annie) Oughtibridge at St Oswald’s Church. Born at Crowle in 1885, Annie was the daughter of Johnson and Mary Ann Oughtibridge who had a farm on Newbigg. In 1911 Emily was a housemaid for William Nettleton and his wife at their house in Cayton, near Scarborough and in the notice of their marriage the Epworth Bells the newspaper said Charles lived in Scarborough, so presumably the couple met there? December 1916 was a double celebration for the Oughtibridge family as Emily’s sister, Rose married Herbert Teanby at St Norbert’s Church a week later.
When Charles returned to his unit in January 1917, the 1/4th London’s were stationed on the Somme. Here in April 1917 theywere in action at the Battle of Arras, before moving north to Ypres in July. They were in reserve during the early actions of the Third Battle of Ypres but on 16th August were called into action for the second major offensive, the Battle of Langemarck. With the other units of the 168th Brigade they supported the advances of the 167th and 169th Brigades into Inverness Copse and Glencourse Wood.

Struggling through the boggy ground and under continual heavy artillery shelling, the attack initially achieved all its objectives. However the attackers were then themselves faced with several waves of German counter-attacks and by the evening of 17th August had lost all their ground and suffered heavy casualties in the process. Among whom was the recently married Charles Simpson, killed whilst acting as a stretcher bearer to recover his wounded colleagues from the battlefield. In a letter to his widow, then living in Cross Street, the officer commanding his company wrote of Charles:
‘Your husband was one of the bravest men in my company’.

Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.