Of the gallantry that shown by many men of 2nd Suffolk during the actions around Infantry Hill, one stood out.
Captain William ‘Bill’ Simpson of Bury St. Edmunds, who was then a Company Commander, had shown exemplary courage and skill during the attack to Infantry Hill, and whist there, he show great zeal in getting the positions reversed as soon as possible to make them defensible. Passing orders himself, be went from platoon to platoon in their new positions, ensuring they were ok and personally overseeing their defences. On more than one occasion he had been the target of snipers. When their positions were attacked on the 18th June, Simpson found himself surrounded in a front line sap with 14 men; all that survived of his platoons. They fought off the fire of the enemy until one side of the defences was strong enough to break out and retire to safety.
It was said of Captain Simpson that the C.O. recommended him for the Victoria Cross, but he was awarded instead a Military Cross. The Regimental History noted that “In the counter-attack on infantry Hill A/Captain W.L. Simpson played a conspicuously gallant part and was considered by many to have deserved a V.C. He was, however, subsequently awarded a military cross”
Educated at Haileybury, Captain Simpson was a Chartered Surveyor before the war. His citation for the Military Cross gave a vivid indication of what he and the Battalion had suffered in the fight for Infantry Hill;
“He led his company with the greatest skill and daring, and on reaching the objective moved up and down the captured trench in the open, regardless of snipers. He afterwards withstood no fewer that four counter-attacks, on one occasion, holding his own with fourteen men, although almost completely surrounded. His gallantry so encouraged his men throughout the five days during which he held the advanced line that it was possible to maintain a difficult position which enabled the troops on his left to re-establish posts which they had abandoned”
Within a year, the actions of Simpson and his Battalion, would be the focus of the nations eyes once more.
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.