[Skip to content]

  • Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 12 October 1917. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Person Details
Aslockton Nottinghamshire
David Leonard was the son of Richard Headley (also Hedly) and Sarah Agatha Simpson (née Waddington). His father Richard Hedley was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, in about 1856, the son of John and Jane Simpson, and baptised at Boston St Botolph on 20 March 1856. In 1881 Richard (15) was living with an uncle and aunt, Samuel (tailor and hosiery) and Phoebe Belton in the Market Place, Boston. His mother Sarah Agatha was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1860, the daughter of Charles Waddington and his wife Catherine (née Kennedy). Richard and Sarah were married in 1879 (J/F/M Doncaster) and had fourteen children of whom three died in infancy. The children who died young were probably: Frank Leslie b. Nottingham 1893 (J/F/M) d. 1893 (O/N/D) and James and John b. Nottingham 1894 (O/N/D) d. 1894 (O/N/D), birth registrations mother's maiden name Waddington. Their surviving children were: Catherine Louisa (or Louise) b. Harpenden Hertfordshire 1880; Gertrude b. Aslockton Nottinghamshire 1882 (reg. J/F/M); Richard Hedley b. Doncaster Yorkshire 29 October 1883; Ida Jane (or Jean) b. Aslockton 1885; Maud Marie b. Aslockton 1887; David Leonard b. Aslockton 8 May 1889 bap. St Patrick (Anglican) 21 March 1891; Charles William Cecil b 23 February 1891 bap. St Patrick 21 March 1891; Arthur Sidney b. Codnor Park, Derbyshire 1895; John Bernard b. Codnor Park 16 November 1897; Francis (Frank) Guy b. Sutton in Ashfield 30 November 1900 bap. Mansfield St Philip 2 January 1901 and Rose Edna b. Nottingham 24 January 1903 bap. St Barnabus RC 24 January 1904. His father Richard worked for the Great Northern Railway, which explains the children's country-wide places of birth. In 1881 Richard (27) was station master at Carlton on Trent, Nottinghamshire, and living in the station house with his wife and child Catherine (1). Also in the household was his wife's younger sister, Rose Waddington (b. Bradford 1863), of no occupation. Their second child, Gertrude, was born in Aslockton in 1882 but their third, Richard, in Doncaster in 1883. However, by 1885 when Ida was born the family was back in Aslockton where their next four children were born. In 1891 the family was recorded on the census at Aslockton Station House where Richard was the station master: Agatha (30), Catherine (11), Gertrude (10), Richard (7), Ida (5), Maud (3), David (1) and Charles (under one year). They then probably moved to Codnor, Derbyshire, where Arthur and John were born (1895, 1897). Richard snr. was appointed station master at the newly opened station at Sutton in Ashfield, where Francis was born in 1900 and baptised in Mansfield in January 1901. However, by the time of the 1901 census Richard, now a railway clerk, and his wife and family were living at 68 Wallis Street, Basford, Nottingham. Nine of their ten children were in the home on the night of the census: Catherine a milliner, Gertrude a dressmaker and Ida, Maud, David, Charles, Arthur (5), John (3) and Francis (under one year). Their son Richard has not yet been traced on the 1901 Census. The youngest child, Rose, was born 2 years later and her parents were living at 222 Alfreton Road, Nottingham, when she was baptised in 1904. Richard snr. died on 9 October 1910 at 60 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham. His widow Sarah was still living at the same address in 1911. Nine of her eleven chldren were in the household: Catherine a milliner, Gertrude a dressmaker, Richard a grocer, Charles a butcher, Arthur a shop assistant (tailor and gents. outfitter), John, Francis, Rose (8) and her married daughter Maud Harrop. Maud had married James Frederick Harrop in 1908; they had had one child who had died in infancy. Also in the household was a boarder, Mary Carroll, a school teacher. The third daughter Ida was living in Horley, Surrey, where she was a companion to Emily Drinkwater (70) single, of private means. David was living in Doncaster with his maternal grandparents, Charles and Catherine Waddington, and working as a general cab maker. David went to America the following year where he was a professional footballer but returned in December 1915 to enlist in the army (see 'Extra Information'). David married Beatrice Scarlett (b. 6 July 1892) at Mansfield St John in 1916. Beatrice's father was for a time licensee of the Green Dragon Hotel, Leeming Street, Mansfield. David and Beatrice had one son, Leonard Herbert Simpson (b. 5 October 1916). Beatrice and their son were living with her parents at 43 St John Street, Mansfield, when Leonard was killed. Beatrice married William E Townroe in 1919. In 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled she was living on Layton Avenue, Mansfield; her occupation was given as general dealer. Beatrice was living at Skerry Hill, Mansfield, when she died on 31 May 1973. David and Beatrice's son married Irene Turner in 1939 (reg. Mansfield). In 1939 Leonard and Irene were living in Luton where he was a radial driller at a motor works. They probably had one child (b. 1940). Leonard died in 1979 (reg. Luton). A report of David's death in the local newspaper in 1917 recorded that four of his brothers were also serving in the Army. Richard attested on 10 December 1915 and was posted to the Army Reserve the following day. He was mobilized on 13 January 1917 and served in the Royal Horse & Field Artillery (203868), 1st Depot, C/286th Brigade. John Bernard served with the Sherwood Foresters (3916, 266267 Private). He was captured on the Somme on 1 July 1916 having suffered wounds 'am brust und R. seite' {on the chest and side]. John was held at two camps, Soltau B. and then Hamein. It is possible that Charles and Arthur had emigrated to Canada and served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (William Cecil Simpson and Arthur Sidney Simpson); they have not yet been traced on UK records after 1911. Francis, the youngest son, would only have been 16 years old when David was killed. Sarah Agatha Simpson has been traced on Electoral Registers from 1923 when she was living at 48 Gregory Boulevard, and from 1926 until 1931 when she was living at 184 Woodborough Road, Nottingham. Several of her children lived with her during this period and Francis and Rose were with her in 1931. Of her surviving children: Catherine Louise married James Proctor in 1915 and she was recorded on a 1930 electoral register living in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. Catherine died in 1934. Gertrude probably died in 1965 (reg. Nottingham). Richard Hedley married Daisy Ward (b. 1 January 1888) in 1914 and they had at least two children, Jessie Maria b. 24 April 1914 and Ida J. b. 31 January 1922. In 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled the family was living on Derby Road, Nottingham: Richard, a grocer's assistant, Daisy and their daughters who were both school teachers. Ida Jane married Aubrey Marshall Parker by licence at Horley St Bartholomew on 11 July 1914. Aubrey (34), the son of a farmer, was a cigar importer and lived in Nottingham. In 1939 Ida was a shopkeeper (confectioner tobacco) and registered at Frank's Sweet Shop, Bloomfield Avenue, Luton, with her brother Frank who was an assistant in the shop. Aubrey Parker has not yet been traced on the 1939 Register, but he was living in Woodthorpe, Nottingham, when he died on 30 April 1949. His brother and widow were awarded administration. Ida may have died in 1967. Maud Marie who had married James Harrop in 1908, probably had two children, Frederick B. b. 1916 and Joan M. b. 16 November 1917, who became a hospital nurse. Maude has not been traced after 1911. John Bernard married Evelyn (b. 19 July 1894). The registration of their marriage has not yet been traced, but in 1923 and 1924 he was recorded on electoral registers in his mother's home at 184 Woodborough Road, Nottingham. In 1939 he was publican of the Cooper's Arms, Bute Street, Luton, and his wife was assisting in the business. John died in 1969. Francis Guy was recorded on electoral rolls at 48 Gregory Boulevard in 1923/1924 and then at 184 Woodborough Road from 1927-1931. However, in 1939 he was a shop assistant living with his sister, Ida Parker, a shopkeeper (confectioner/tobacco) at Frank's Sweet Shop, Bloomfield Avenue, Luton. He died at Nazareth House, Old Lenton, on 6 July 1979. Rose Edna was recorded on the 1929 and 1931 electoral registers living with her mother at 184 Woodborough Road, Nottingham. There is a record of a Rose E Simpson (33, b. 1903) a chiropodist, sailing from Liverpool to Montreal, Canada, on 11 June 1936.
He was a general cab maker in Doncaster in 1911 but then played football professionally in America from 1912 to 1915.
20 Sep 1917
483548 - CWGC Website
Enlisted Mansfield
Acting Bombardier
Royal Field Artillery
162nd Bde Some military records in the name of Leonard Simpson. Leonard was killed at 5.30am on 20 September 1917. The circumstances of his death were explained in a letter: 'He and his detachment were in the gun-pit about to open fire during the infantry attack. While they were getting ready a shell entered the pit and exploded, killing Bombardier Simpson and Sergt., and severely wounding two others.' Leonard was buried twelve miles behind the lines at a funeral service at which about 80 of his detachment were present. He is buried in Bedford House Cemetery Enclosure No.2.L.E.41, Belgium. CWGC - History of Bedford House Cemetery (extract): 'Zillebeke village and most of the commune were in the hands of Commonwealth forces for the greater part of the First World War, but the number of cemeteries in the neighbourhood bears witness to the fierce fighting in the vicinity from 1914 to 1918. Bedford House, sometimes known as Woodcote House, were the names given by the Army to the Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats ... It was used by field ambulances and as the headquarters of brigades and other fighting units, and charcoal pits were dug there from October 1917. In time, the property became largely covered by small cemeteries; five enclosures existed at the date of the Armistice ... ENCLOSURE No.2 was begun in December 1915, and used until October 1918. After the Armistice, 437 graves were added, all but four of which came from the Ecole de Bienfaisance and Asylum British Cemeteries, both at Ypres.' (www.cwgc.org)
Nottingham Evening Post, 'Roll of Honour', 5 October 1917: ''Simpson. Killed in action September 20th David Leonard (Len) RFA greatly loved second son of the late R H Simpson and Mrs Simpson 60 Gregory Boulevard.' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 8 October 1917: notices placed by mother, sisters and brothers (in France); wife and baby Lennie; Mr and Mrs H Scarlett, parents-in-law Mansfield Reporter, 'Deaths’, 12 October 1917: ‘Simpson. Killed in Action, Sept. 20th, Bdr. Leonard Simpson, RFA, dearly loved husband of Beatrice Simpson (nee Scarlett), St John’s-street, Mansfield. ‘A noble life sacrificed.’ From his sorrowing Wife and baby Lennie.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter, 12 October 1917: ‘Bdr Leonard Simpson Killed' 'Bdr. Leonard Simpson, of Mansfield, attached to the RFA., we regret to announce, was killed in France on September 20th, 1917. He was the second son of the late Mr RH Simpson, who, for some years, was station master at Sutton in Ashfield, he being the first to hold that position when the GN [Great Northern] Station was opened. Bdr. Simpson’s mother now resides at 60, Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham. Deceased was very popular with the men in the battery. The news of his death was received at Mansfield and Nottingham with deep regret by a large circle of friends amongst whom he was highly respected. He took a keen interest in football, playing several year with Notts. County, and also for Ansonia, Conne., USA. Four brothers are serving with the Colours. He married Miss Scarlett, only daughter of Mr and Mrs H Scarlett, late of the Green Dragon Hotel, Leeming-street. Mr Scarlett also has four sons in the army. Mrs L Simpson and baby reside with her parents in St John’s-street, Mansfield. Much sympathy for them is felt. The deceased was 27 years of age. ‘The following letters have been received by the widow: ‘24th September 1917, Dear Madam, I am taking the liberty of writing to you, and I sincerely hope you and your baby are in good health. I am writing to you, as I was one of Len’s companion’s here, and am very sorry, indeed, for the bad news I have to write. He was one of the best lads and a hard worker. He was with the guns when he was killed. I will say that I am pleased he had a proper funeral. He is buried away from the line and a service was held in which a large number of his fellow ‘boys’ attended. The boys express their deepest sympathy to you and all his relatives. My address is No. 22943, Corporal W Evans D/162 RFA. I must not conclude hoping that your will bear this bereavement and keep in good health. Yours sincerely, Corporal W Evans. Note: L/22943 Corporal WE Evans, ‘D’ Bty, 162nd Bde. Died 13 December 1917 (Ypres Reservoir Cemetery) ‘26-9-17. Dear Mrs Simpson, I hope you will excuse me in taking the liberty of writing these few lines to you. I regret to say that your husband, who was my best and only chum, was killed in action on the 19th inst. He is a great loss to the battalion as he was so well liked by all, although he has only been in the battery a short time. He proved to be a splendid soldier, and always acted as one from his joining until his death. You have my deepest sympathy, as I know what a great loss he is to us. I have been given to understand that a parcel has arrived for him, and I have been asked to accept it, as I am told it would be useless to return it to you, as it would not reach its destination. But if you require it please let me know, and I will do my best to get it back to you. No doubt you have received a photo of him, and its me, taken with him, who has written this letter. Believe me, to remain, your sincerely, Bdr. EJ Corrall (20290), D/162, Brigade, RFA, BEF. PS If you have not a photo, I will send you one.’ Note: L/20290 Bombardier Edward James Corrall, ‘D’ Bty, 162nd Bde died 21 October 1918 (St Souplet British Cemetery). (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour: Simpson David Leonard. Bombardier, No. 140942, 162nd Brigate, Royal Field Artillery, s. of the late Richard Headley Simpson, by his wife, Sara Agatha, dau. of Charles Waddington; b. Doncaster co. York 8 May 1890; educ. Nottingham Roman Catholic School; went to America in Nov. 1912 and settled at Ansonia, Conn, where he was a Professional Footballer; returned to England 23 December 1915, and enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery 2 May, 1916; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, and was killed in action near Ypres 19 Sep. 1917. Buried in Zillebeke British Military Cemetery (sic). Capt. J Filgate wrote: ‘Bombardier DL Simpson was killed in action 5.30 am 19 (sic) September 1917. He and his detachment were in the gun-pit about to open fire during the infantry attack. While they were getting ready a shell entered the pit and exploded, killing Bombardier Simpson and Sergt., and severely wounding two others. He was buried twelve miles behind the line. Eighty men of the battalion were present. He was such a splendid fellow, steady and absolutely reliable at his work, fearless and devoted to duty, and very popular with the men.’ He m. at St John’s Church, Mansfield, Beatrice (43, St John's Street, Mansfield), dau. of Harry Scarlett, and had a son, Leonard Herbert, b. 5 October 1916.'
Remembered on


  • Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 12 October 1917. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
    David Leonard Simpson - Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 12 October 1917. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
  • Buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium. (www.cwgc.org)
    David Leonard Simpson - Buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium. (www.cwgc.org)