Private George SIMS


Regiment/Service:
Army Service Corps
Unit:
2nd Tank Brigade Motor Transport.
Service Number:
M2/226716
Date of Death:
8 October 1918 - Died (of wounds)
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Cemetery Reference:
VII. E. 23.


Personal History:

George was born in the June quarter 1897, the son of George Henry (Coach Proprietor) and Maria Sims of 4 St James Street, Buxton. George had four older sisters, Florence (Florrie), Clara, Gertrude and Nellie. (1901 Census RG 13/3270).

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21243) the family had moved to 10 Eagle Parade, Buxton, and after the War George's parents were living at 10 Ash Street, Buxton. 

Military History:
George enlisted in the Army Service Corps in Buxton. His Medal Index Card indicates that he entered the War after 1915 as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star medal but unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived. [A comparison of his Service Number with other records would indicate that he enlisted in late 1916.]

On the 29th September - 2nd October 1918, the Battle of the St. Quentin Canal was fought. It is possible that George received the wounds from which he ultimately died on the first day of that Battle. Many of the casualties of his 5th Tank Battalion were killed in action on the 3rd October and are buried in Bellicourt Cemetery.

In reporting his death, the local paper stated that he was attached to the 5th Tank Battalion. On the morning of the 29th September 1918 he drove "the Brigadier Major up to the forward area."  It seems the Officer got out of the car to assess the scene, at which time the car, and George, were hit by "... heavy hostile shell fire." [See: 'Footnote' below.]

Initially 'The Buxton Advertiser' reported that George had been seriously wounded and was in Hospital, but the following week (19th October 1918) the paper confirmed his death and printed extracts from several letters received by his family. One of the Hospital sisters wrote on the day George died:

"It is with very great regret that I write to you this morning to tell you about your boy. All the time he has been with us he has been very ill, but we really had hoped to save him. This morning early he became much worse, and at 6 a.m. he passed away quite peacefully. .......

Everyone had got so fond of him and he had been good. He was just telling me yesterday that he had no pain whatever, and I was teasing him about being the pet in the ward. I know you will be heartbroken, for he told us he was the only boy. Try to comfort yourself with the thought that everything possible was done for him, and he had everything he wished for."

The Reverend R.W. Hopkins, who had been a Wesleyan minister in Buxton earlier in the Century, wrote three letters in all - two whilst George was wounded and the other after his death. He confirmed that George had been doing well and was going to be transferred to a Base Hospital on the 8th October, but: "... on the 7th he took a turn for the worse, and during the night haemorrhage set in in a wound on his left side, and he sank rapidly. Every means possible was used to restore him, but without avail."

Later in his letter he added: "I was able to find some of his comrades from the drivers at the Tank Brigade, and several, including the Sergeant, came to see him the day before he died. His death was so unexpected it was a shock to us all. Shortly after he died the Staff Officer, whom he was driving at the time he was hit, came specially to enquire about him."

The 'Advertiser' account concluded: "He was buried to-day in a quiet little Cemetery. With your sorrow will mingle a pride that your boy did his duty so nobly and at so a great a cost, and died such a brave man's death. Faithful unto death, he shall surely inherit the crown of life that fadeth not away."

The village of Tincourt, where George now lies, was occupied by British troops in March 1917, during the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. From the following May until March 1918, Tincourt became a centre for Casualty Clearing Stations. On the 23rd March 1918, the villages were evacuated and they were recovered, in a ruined condition, about the 6th September. From then until December 1918, Casualty Clearing Stations were again posted to Tincourt. After the Armistice Tincourt Cemetery was used for the reburial of soldiers found on the battlefield, or buried in small French or German cemeteries, so it is possible that George was re-buried from "the quiet little Cemetery" mentioned in the 'Advertiser' account..

George's cause of death is recorded by the CWGC as "Died" - surely "Died of wounds" would be more accurate.

Footnote:
The Brigade Major being driven by George was Charles Willoughby Moke NORRIE, who was Brigade Major, 2nd Tank Brigade (France) until 2 November 1918. Later (frrom 22 August 1957) he became Baron Norrie of Wellington, New Zealand & Hawkesbury Upton, Gloucester.

After World War 2 he remained on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers until 26 September 1953 - his 60th Birthday. He served as Governor of the State of South Australia, 19 December 1944 - 19 June1952, and as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand, 2 December 1952 - 25 July 1957.



Sources:
· "The Buxton Advertiser" - 19 October & November 1918

Link to CWGC Record
Pt George Sim's grave
poppy
.... about Brig. Maj. C. W. M. Norrie