SIMPSON John Luther 1893-1968

John Luther SIMPSON 1893 – 1968

Family Details

John Lowther [known as Luther] Simpson, born 6 March 1893,[1] was the illegitimate son of Mary Jane Simpson.  Mary had 2 illegitimate sons, the other being Thomas William Simpson bc.1891[2] and both were born at Toft Hill.  In 1891, Mary Jane lived with her mother Elizabeth at Evenwood with her 2 sons Thomas and John.[3] 

Mary married Charles Welford in 1897,[4] to whom she had 2 daughters Elizabeth Ann bc. 1897, Mary Ethel bc.1899 and 1 son James bc. 1904.  In 1901, they lived at the Oaks, Evenwood with John Luther, 4 years old daughter Elizabeth Ann and 2 years old daughter Mary Ethel.  Thomas lived with his grandmother Elizabeth at Toft Hill.[5] By 1911, the family lived at 45 the Oaks, Evenwood.  Charles was employed as a “colliery caller” and both Thomas and John were recorded as, “putter boys” working in a nearby colliery.[6]

Military Details

The service record of John L. Simpson has not been researched.  It is known that he was posted to the Hampshire Regiment being given the service number 19348 and then was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, service number 8499.  He was not awarded the 1914-15 Star which infers that he was not posted overseas until after 31 December 1915.[7]  He was discharged from service 10 February 1919.[8]

The Hampshire Regiment [9]

We do not know which battalion he joined.  It is likely that he was posted to one of the 7 New Army battalions [numbered 10 – 16] since he was not a regular soldier who were posted to battalions numbered 1 to 3 or a member of the Territorial Force who were usually posted to battalions numbered 4 to 9 and 17.

The Machine Gun Corps [10]

22 October 1915: The Machine Gun Corps was created. The companies formed in each brigade were transferred to the new Corps. The MGC would eventually consist of infantry Machine Gun Companies, cavalry Machine Gun Squadrons and motor Machine Gun Batteries. The pace of reorganisation depended largely on the rate of supply of the Lewis guns but it was completed before the Battle of the Somme in 1916. A Base Depot for the Corps was established at Camiers, France.

Shortly after the formation of the MGC, Maxim guns were replaced by the Vickers machine gun, which became a standard gun for the next five decades. The Vickers machine gun is fired from a tripod and is cooled by water held in a jacket around the barrel. The gun weighed 28.5 pounds, the water another 10 and the tripod weighed 20 pounds. Bullets were assembled into a canvas belt, which held 250 rounds and would last 30 seconds at the maximum rate of fire of 500 rounds per minute. Two men were required to carry the equipment and two the ammunition. A Vickers machine gun team also had two spare men.  We do not know in which company he served.

In May 1918, the Evenwood Parish Magazine reported that John Luther Simpson and John Ellerker had both been killed.  In fact, 73017 Private John Henry Ellerker, 15th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry had been killed in action 28 March 1918 [11] and it appears that the correspondent had mistaken John Luther for his brother Thomas William.  250523 Serjeant Thomas W. Simpson MM, 1/6th battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 27 March 1918 and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, France.[12]  He was 27 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood. 

Private J.L. Simpson was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[13] 

Post War

In 1919, John L. Simpson married Hilda Wilson [14] and they had 5 children: [15]

  • Margery born 3 October 1920
  • Kenneth born 20 March 1922
  • Joseph Luther born 25 September 1924
  • James William born 10 January 1930
  • Margaret born 1933[16]

In 1939, John L. Simpson and his family lived at 9 Alpine Terrace, Evenwood.  John, Kenneth and Joseph are all recorded as colliery workers with John specified as a coal hewer.  He was also a Special Constable. James was  still at school and Margaret’s record is “officially closed”.[17]

1968: John L. Simpson died aged 75.[18]


Badges of the Hampshire Regiment and the Machine Gun Corps

John Luther SIMPSON
John Luther SIMPSON with his sister Mary Ethel Welford


[1] 1939 England & Wales Register

[2] England & Wales 1837-1915 Birth Index Vol.10a p.249 Auckland 1891 Q1

[3] 1901 census

[4] England & Wales 1837-1915 Marriage Index Vol.10a p.320 Auckland 1986 Q3

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census – they probably worked at Randolph Colliery, Evenwood

[7] Medal Roll card index

[8] Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory and British War Medals: Machine Gun Corps



[11] Commonwealth War Graves Commission He is buried at Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

[12] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[13] Medal Roll index card

[14] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916 – 2005 Vol.10a p.581 Auckland 1919 Q2

[15] 1939 England & Wales Register unless specified otherwise

[16] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.391 Auckland 1933 Q2

[17] 1939 England & Wales Register

[18] England & Wales Death Index 1916-2007 Vol.1a p.584 Durham South Western 1968 Q2