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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Four brothers killed


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The following relates to 4 brothers on a local war memorial at Didbrook, Glos.

SIMPSON Charles Edward Sapper WR/269551, 116 Rail Co, Royal Engineers died 12/11/1918. Son of Henry and Mary A of Whitehill, Winchcomb, brother of Charles ,John and Wilfred who also fell. Buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel. D.D.38

SIMPSON John Ernest Pte 26647, 7th Gloucestershire Regt, killed in action on Saturday 10 February 1917 at Mesopotamia Son of Henry and Mary A of Winchcomb, and brother of Charles, Thomas and Wilfred who also fell. Buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq. XXIX.B. 1/40

SIMPSON Thomas Pte 13309, 10th Gloucestershire Regt, killed in action on Monday 25 September 1916. Son of Henry and Mary A of Whitehill, Winchcomb, Glos and brother of Charles, John and Wilfred who also fell. Buried in Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos, France. V.A.3

SIMPSON Wilfred M Pte CH/21002, H.M.S.Hussar, Royal Marine Light Infantry died 24/10/1918 son of Henry and Mary of Winchcomb and brother of Charles, John, and Thomas who also fell. Buried in Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy. I.C.31

They had a younger brother that was to young to serve and an older brother that might / might not have (I have a match on the name but not enough evidence to say if it was him or not).

One family losing 4 sons is obviously tragic, especially as one was killed less than 3 weeks before the end of the war and another died the day after the armistice. But I wondered if in cases like this were there any procedures when several brothers had been killed to pull remaining brothers from the front line to safe posts? (I am thinking "Saving Private Ryan" - and yes I know that was WWII and American). Compassion says there should have been something in place, but I have never heard of it and immagine the logistics of identifying cases like this would not have been simple.


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There are certainly examples in the Local Tribunal records where exemption from Military Service was sought on the grounds that the man was the ' last surviving son of widow x who had lost three of her sons' and similar pleas under the 'domestic hardship' clause. The Local Tribunals were not generally sympathetic and the issue raised in Parliament on more than one occasion. Two examples are:-



Sometimes the last son might be spared military service on occupational grounds if, for example he was the last able bodied man to work a farm.

As for the 'Saving Private Ryan' scenario I think organisational compassion was in short supply once a man was serving,(cf efforts to get under age soldiers back from the Front) which is not to say individual officers might not try to keep such a man out of harm's way as much as they could.

As an aside the issue of brothers who died has always provided a fascination for the forum and a forum search will reveal many interesting threads on the topic.


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Ken, thanks for that.

I had seen threads on brothers and Tribunals previously.

I had scanned the details of this memorial previously but it was only when looking at it in more detail that the dates of the last two deaths fully registered, especially of Charles (12 Nov) so when everybody was celebrating the end of the war the poor parents who would recently have heard about Wilfred being killed would hear about the final death just when they were thinking that he was safe.

Therefore thought of the 'Saving Private Ryan' scenario, and although I had never heard of anything like it I wondered if there were any such procedures, I doubted it but thought I would ask if there were any.


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