Albert John Norman SIMPSON

SIMPSON, Albert John Norman

Service Numbers: 5208, 5258
Enlisted: 14 January 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Cape Jervis, 8 May 1897
Home Town: Langhorne Creek, Alexandrina, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer/Farmer
Died: Natural Causes , Australia, 3 December 1982, aged 85 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Langhorne Creek WW1 Roll of Honour, Second Valley War Memorial, Yankalilla War Memorial Wall
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World War 1 Service

14 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 5208, 10th Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5208, 10th Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5208, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Adelaide
26 Aug 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 5208, 10th Infantry Battalion, "The Last Hundred Days", Wounded in back
31 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 5208, 10th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Wounded SN 5258, 10th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Albert John Norman Simpson was born on the 8th of May 1897 in Cape Jervis, South Australia. When Albert was 3 or 4 years old his dad, John James Simpson, moved away to live in Western Australia. The rest of the family, Albert, his older brother, and Mum Ethel Edith Simpson, moved to Langhorne Creek South Australia. Albert had brown hair and hazel coloured eyes and weighed 104lbs or 47kg. His height and weight may seem low but was average for the troops that signed up for WW1 in Australia. Before he left to go to war he worked as a labourer and was un-married. Being a labourer in Langhorne Creek involved working on a farm growing crops such as corn and wheat.

On January the 14th 1916 when Albert was 18 years old, he caught a bus or walked from Langhorne Creek to Strathalbyn, then caught a train to Adelaide where he filled out and signed a form saying he wanted to fight in World War 1. He most likely wanted to fight in the war as he wanted to travel the world, to serve his country and to get out of Australia. On May the 25th 1916 Albert left Adelaide for France on the ship HMAT Shropshire (A9). The HMAT Shropshire was a grain carrier that was converted to an army personal transporter. The army commonly did this so they could transport their troops long distances across seas. He arrived in France during July 1916 as the trip from Adelaide to France took about 2-3 months as there was no bad weather or rough seas. 

From July to August 1916 Albert trained to become a member of the Lewis Machine Gun section in his platoon, which was part of the 10th Infantry Battalion. It most likely took Albert around 2-3 months to finish his training. This role in his platoon meant he had to keep the machine guns topped up with ammunition, clean and well looked after. As Albert was a private, the lowest rank of soldier, this was probably his main role in the section.

On August the 27th 1917 he lost 3 days of pay after getting drunk which is a crime in the Australian army as well as in multiple other armies. It was common for soldiers to get drunk while hanging out with friends at night.

On March 18th 1918 Albert contracted a common disease, influenza, and this put Albert in Hospital for 12 days. Influenza was a very common disease as the living conditions in the trenches where horrible and if a disease or cold came into the trenches everyone caught it. He then re-joined the 16th reinforcements which was made up of men from SA. On August 28th, 1918 he was wounded in the back. He then spent 2 months recovering in a hospital in Rouen, France. Finally, he recovered on the 17th of October 1918 and was given light duties till the end of the war. Light duties involved guarding bridges and important points, helping with the movement of civilians and returning soldiers as well as helping with the distribution of food and water.

After the war ended Albert was moved to the Motherland, England, where he spent 3 months on leave. This was unusual as soldiers usually only got given 3 days of leave 3-4 times a year. He finally returned to Australia on August 30th 1919 and was discharged from the army a day later. In later life he was a shearer. Albert died on the 3rd of December 1982, aged 85 years. Albert showed true Anzac spirit by signing up to the war to serve his country.

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