Hugh Edward SIMPSON

SIMPSON, Hugh Edward

Service Number: 1708
Enlisted: 4 August 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 13th Field Ambulance
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, 13 December 1893
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Metal worker
Died: Natural causes, Brisbane, Queensland, 12 November 1976, aged 82 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

4 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1708, 3rd Field Ambulance, Brisbane, Queensland
4 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1708, 3rd Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
4 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1708, 3rd Field Ambulance, HMAT Mashobra, Sydney
27 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 13th Field Ambulance
5 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 1708, 13th Field Ambulance

Help us honour Hugh Edward Simpson's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sue Smith

     Hugh Edward Simpson was born in Brisbane, Queensland, on the 13th December 1893.  He was the 3rd son and 4th child of Thomas and Anna Simpson.  Hugh had 3 brothers and 4 sisters.

     Hugh enlisted for the war as a Private on the 4th August 1915 at Brisbane aged 21 years and 8 months.  He was single and was described as being 5feet 6 inches tall with grey eyes, black hair and a dark complexion.  His occupation at the time of enlist was a metal worker and he was living at Cross Street, Fairfield, Brisbane, Queensland with his parents.  His service number was 1708 and he trained at the Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane.   He was posted into the 3rd Field Ambulance, 11th Reinforcements along with my grandfather, Cyril Morsley (SN 1707) and Arthur Wheatley (SN1706).  Cyril was a student and Arthur a tutor, both attending King’s College, Brisbane.  Cyril and Arthur enlisted together on the same day a week before Hugh.  Cyril began writing a diary on the day he arrived at the Enoggera Barracks in which he mentions Hugh regularly.

     The three of them embarked from Sydney on the 4th October 1915 on the ship “Mashobra” and disembarked at Lemnos Island 2 months later on the 4th December.  On the 6th December they arrived at midnight at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli then moved ashore under gunfire at 6am on the 7th December.  After experiencing war in all its horrors over the next 11 days and nights, Hugh was evacuated on the 18th December.  He was transported to Alexandria, Egypt on the ship “Beltana”, disembarking on Christmas Day.  He proceeded to the camp at Maadi then in mid January moved to the camp at Tel-el-kebir.  On the 27th February Hugh and Arthur transferred to the 13th Field Ambulance.  Entries in Cyril’s diary state that two nights later Hugh, Cyril and Arthur attended a YMCA meeting together.  A week later Arthur and Hugh visited Cyril and brought photos of Gallipoli to show him.  In late March the three of them met up again and had coffee together just prior to Arthur and Cyril embarking for France on the 27th March.  Hugh followed a few months later on the 6th June, embarking from Alexandria on the ship “Oriana”.  He arrived in Marseilles, France, a week later.

     In late September Hugh was detached from his unit for a month for duty with the water tanks.  A few months later in late January 1917 Hugh was evacuated to a rest station with bronchitis then hospitalised.  In late February he is evacuated with influenza from Harve embarking on the ship “Grantully Castle” for England.  There he is admitted to the Reading War Hospital in London.

     After recovering, he takes furlough for 2 weeks in mid June before reporting for duty at the No. 2 Command Depot in Weymouth.  A few days later he proceeds to the No. 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, Salisbury, England.  He mains there for several weeks before proceeding to the Overseas Training Camp at Perkham Down at the beginning of August 1917.  After two months preparation he proceeds to France on the 18th October, marching into Rouelles the following day.  Three weeks later, at the beginning of November, he rejoins his unit, the 13th Field Ambulance.

     While serving in France in 1918 Hugh takes leave twice, first in Mid March for a week then later in the year in mid October he has 2 weeks in England.

     On the 13th March 1919 Hugh marches out from Belgium and then Havre, France, for return to Australia.  He disembarks at Weymouth, England and proceeds to the No. 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott.  The following day he’s admitted to hospital and discharged a week later.  Two months later on the 31st May 1919 Hugh embarks on the ship “Aeneas” for Australia and arrives seven weeks later on the 12th July just a month short of 4 years since he enlisted.  Hugh’s older brother Thomas (SN 2464a) also served in France and was returned to Australia two weeks after Hugh on the 15th June 1919.

     That same year Hugh and Thomas become residents of the Soldiers Settlement at Beerburrum, Queensland.  This was an area of land divided into smaller portions that were granted by the government to returned servicemen.  Unlike most of the other servicemen who farmed the land, Hugh became a storekeeper.  This was to be his saving grace as after just a few years the scheme largely failed due to poor soil.  This left the farmers unable to make a living and therefore meant many had to leave.  Hugh remained and later moved the shop to the main street opposite the school.  The main street was called Anzac Avenue where trees had been planted to honour all those who served in WW1.

     On the 2nd October 1923, 30 year old Hugh married 23 year old Rose Scott.  They had three daughters…Esme, Beryl and Thelma.  Sadly, Thelma died as an infant in 1926 and was buried in the Beerburrum Cemetery.

In 1934 Hugh was appointed a Justice of the Peace.  He and the family remained in Beerburrum till the mid to late 1940’s, when they moved to 101 King Arthur Terrace, Tennyson, Brisbane where Hugh continued to be a storekeeper.

     I found an article on the “Adopt A Digger” website written by Margaret who was herself a resident at Beerburrum when Hugh and his family were there and went to school with Hugh’s daughters.  She speaks very highly of Hugh and says:

“Without the Simpsons, many of the Beerburrum settlers would have not survived. Most of the settlers experienced very hard times, the ground was not suitable for pineapples and for those who stayed life was difficult indeed my Family included. Hugh always allowed my Mum to "book it up" and there were at times months when we could not pay Hugh a penny. But he never denied us the necessities as he did for most of the families.  When we left Beerburrum we owed Hugh Ninety Six Pounds, a large sum in those days.  It would have been more but my Mother would work for them, washing, ironing and cleaning etc to pay some of the debt. The rest, after we moved to Brisbane and my Father had a good job (aircraft engineer) my Mother sent regular payments to Hugh until the debt was paid off. Hugh told my Grandmother that ours was one of the few debts paid in full.  All my life I have had great respect for Hugh Simpson. Without Hugh there were times that we may not have eaten.”

     In April 1967 Hugh sent a letter to the Army Records Base in Melbourne applying for the Anzac Commemorative Medallion and Lapel Badge.  Hugh and Rose celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the 2nd October 1973, still living at the same address in Brisbane.

     On the 12th November 1976, Hugh passed away in Brisbane aged 83.  Rose lived for a further 22 years, passing away on Australia Day 1998 aged 98.     

Hugh Edward Simpson was awarded:

1914-1915 Star 4161

British War Medal 7029

Victory Medal 6956

The Anzac Commemorative Medallion was instituted in 1967 by Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.  It was awarded to surviving members of the Australian forces who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula, or in direct support of the operations from close off shore, at any time during the period from the first Anzac Day in April 1915 to the date of final evacuation in January 1916.  Next of kin, or other entitled persons, are entitled to receive the medallion on behalf of their relatives if the medallion has not been issued.

The medallion is cast in bronze and is approximately 75 millimetres high and 50 millimetres wide.  The obverse of the medallion depicts Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier to safety.  It is bordered on the lower half by a laurel wreath above the word ANZAC.  The reverse shows a map in relief of Australia and New Zealand superimposed by the Southern Cross.  The lower half is bordered by New Zealand fern leaves.  The name and initials of the recipient is engraved on the reverse.  The medallion is issued in a presentation box.

(Australian Government - Department of Defence)


Sue Smith September 2016