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Joseph Simpson (1898-1916)

Boy shop assistant from Darlington served in the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland

Joseph Simpson was born on 18 August 1898 in Darlington. His father was George Simpson (1871) from Guisborough, Yorkshire, who worked as a telegraph linesman. His mother was Violetta Simpson nee Hope (1878-1941) from Stockton-on-Tees. His parents married in Darlington in 1896 and Joseph was the second born of four children with one sister and two brothers. The family lived at 7 Railway Terrace, Redcar, Yorkshire at both the 1901 and 1911 censuses,

Joseph joined the Royal Navy on 19 January 1915 at the age of 16 years and 5 months. His civilian occupation is described as assistant to Maypole Dairy. This grocery chain originated in Wolverhampton in the 1880s and by the first world war had more than 980 branches around the country. Maypole Dairy specialised in butter, eggs, tea, condensed milk and margarine.

Joseph was appointed as boy 2nd class with the service number J34365 with his home port at Devonport. He committed to serve for 12 years from the date of his 18th birthday. When he joined he was five foot six inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He had no distinguishing marks recorded.

Joseph spent almost three months at HMS Ganges, a shore based training establishment at Shotley, Suffolk. This was followed by a further five months preparation on the training ship HMS Impregnable. Joseph was promoted to boy 1st class on 30 July 1915.

On 27 August 1915, Joseph joined the crew of the battlecruiser HMS Invincible. She was the flagship of the 3rd battlecruiser squadron in the Grand Fleet. On 31 May 1916, the squadron acted as the fleet’s heavy scouting force during the Battle of Jutland. She was destroyed by a midships magazine explosion after her ‘Q’ turret was penetrated, effectively blowing the ship in half. She is reported to have sunk within 90 seconds. Joseph was lost in this action along with 1,026 officers and crewmen. His body was not recovered for burial and he is honoured on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. He was 17 years, 9 months 19 days old when he lost his life.

Joseph Simpson was awarded the 1914/15 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Darlington

Birth date: 13-Aug-1898

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 7 Railway Terrace, Redcar, Yorkshire (1901 and 1911 census)

Employment: Assistant to Maypole Dairy (1915, Royal Navy service record)

Family: Parents: George Simpson (1871-), Violetta Simpson nee Hope (1878-1941)
Siblings: James Wilfred Simpson (1897), Rose Olena (1901), James Simpson (1904)

Military service:

Boy 2nd class, 19 Jan 1915
Boy 1st class, 30 July 1915
HMS Ganges , January to March 1915
HMS Impregnable, August 1915
HMS Invincible, 27 August 1915 to 31 May 1916

Medal(s): 1914/15 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Plymouth Naval Memorial

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham