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Septimus Simpson (1893-1916)

Coal miner from Jarrow served as stoker on HMS Queen Mary at the Battle of Jutland

Septimus Simpson was born 26 April 1893 in Jarrow. His father was George William Simpson (1859) a blacksmith’s labourer originally from North Shields, Northumberland. His mother was Grace Simpson nee Dinning (1864) who was born in Gateshead. His father’s work saw him employed on both sides of the River Tyne. His parents had a total of 11 children, eight of whom survived. They were born either side of the Tyne close to Wallsend or Jarrow. Septimus’ name would suggest he was the seventh son in the family. In 1911 he was one of seven boys with a single sister completing the family. At the 1911 census they lived in Ormondside, Blackhall Mill near Ebchester.

Having worked as a coal miner, Septimus joined the Royal Navy on 17 December 1912 at the age of 19. He was appointed stoker 2nd class and given the service number SS113158, a short service enrolment, that indicated he intended to serve five years full-time followed by seven additional years in the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR).

After six months training, Septimus was posted to his first seagoing ship HMS Albermarle on 17 June 1913. Albermarle was a pre-dreadnought class battleship that was in use as a gunnery training ship when Septimus joined her crew. He was transferred to HMS Queen Mary, a newly built battlecruiser, when it came into service on 4 September 1913 and he became part of its maiden crew. On 8 January 1914 he was promoted to stoker 1st class.

Septimus served on Queen Mary at the battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914 and when it defended the German raid on Scarborough in December 1914. HMS Queen Mary put to sea on 31 May 1916 to take part in the Battle of Jutland. She came under fire and one shell hit and detonated one or both of the forward magazines, which broke the ship in two near the foremast. A further explosion, possibly from shells breaking loose, shook the aft end of the ship as it began to roll over and sink. A total of 1,266 crewmen including Septimus were lost in the sinking.

Septimus’ body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He is also remembered on the Roadside Cross 1914-18, Hamsterley Colliery.

Septimus Simpson was awarded the Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Jarrow

Birth date: 26-Apr-1893

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: Ormondside, Blackhall Mill, Ebchester (1911 census)
9 Hawthorne Terrace, Blackhill, Consett (1916 CWGC record)

Employment: Miner (1912 Royal Navy service record)
Stoker (Royal Navy record)

Family: Parents: William George Simpson (1859-), Grace Simpson nee Dinning ((1864-)
Siblings: Thomas Simpson, William Simpson, Alfred Simpson, John Simpson, Richard Simpson, James Simpson, Margaret Jane Simpson

Military service:

Stoker 2nd class, 17 December 1912
Stoker 1st class, 8 January 1914
HMS Albermarle, 17 June 1913 - 3 September 1913
HMS Queen Mary, 4 September 1914 - 31 May 1916

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Roadside Cross 1914-18, Hamsterley Colliery

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham