TRAVERS SIMPKIN

Private 9866, Honourable Artillery Company

Died 3rd May 1917

Aged 37

No Known Grave

Listed on the Arras Memorial

Lived Joan Royd, Heckmondwike


Travers, born in 1880, was the youngest son of Jonathan and his wife Selina.  He was the uncle of  Captain Harry Hargreaves Simpkin – 13th Battalion (The Prince of Wales Own) West Yorkshire and Captain Arthur Wilson Simpkin – 13th and 8th (The Prince of Wales Own) West Yorkshire.

Jonathan Simpkin was the proprietor of Joan Royd Colliery.  Travers was born in Castleford but spent most of his life in Heckmondwike at Joan Royd house where he was still living in 1911 with his brother Fred and sister Effie.  He was a chartered accountant.  He joined the Honourable Artillery Company in December 1915, was posted to France in March 1917 and probably died on 3rd May 1917 on the first day the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt, his body was never found.  His sister Effie found this difficult and in 1918 she wrote to her brother’s Commanding Officer asking for details of his comrades as she wished to write to them to see if they had any more news of him.

The second offensive on Bullecourt was a result of the failure of the initial assault to penetrate the German lines.  British artillery bombarded the village, which by 20 April had been virtually destroyed.  The infantry assault, initially planned for 20 April, was pushed back a number of times and finally set for the early morning of 3 May.  At 3:45am, elements of the Australian 2nd Division attacked east of Bullecourt village while British troops from the 62nd Division attacked Bullecourt.

Despite heavy fire and close-in fighting, the West Yorkshire Regiment  penetrated through to the northern outskirts of Bullecourt, but reinforcements could not reach them.  The attempts to reinforce the parties that had advanced the furthest proved costly and fruitless.   Orders were hurriedly sent to 22nd Brigade to assist, but it was not until 10.30pm that the 2nd Honourable Artillery Company and 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers came into action, and they very soon faced counter attacks. For all the efforts of 3 May, only a small lodgement had been made in the enemy system. 18,000 British and Australian men were killed or wounded in this offensive.
{PL}

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