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St James Church Taunton

World War 1 Memorial Project

Cyril Simpkiss


Name:  Cyril Simpkiss    (NB Medal Card at TNA gives surname as Simpkill)

Rank:  Private

Service Number: 28787               

Regiment: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

Battalion/Unit number: 7th (Service) Battalion (K2)/961 Brigade

Date/year of Birth: 1898

Place of Birth: Brighouse, Yorkshire

Place of Residence: Rowbarton

Date of Death: 2nd April1918

Place of Death: Picardy

Burial/Memorial: Pozieres Memorial to the missing

Cyril was born in Brighouse (between Halifax & Huddersfield), in 1898, but lived in Taunton from at least 1901.  His father was William Edward Simpkiss from Broad Oak in Staffordshire, a dentist apprenticed in Leicester.  Cyril’s mother Annie came from Lilbourne in Northamptonshire while his only brother William Henry, (known as Harry), was born in Sheffield.  Clearly the family had travelled extensively before settling in Taunton. 

Cyril enlisted in Taunton and served first in the West Somerset yeomanry before being transferred to the 7th Service Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.  The men of the 7th DCLI were largely volunteers and according to the Battalion diary many were "young and immature townsmen".

Harry Patch, the last British survivor of trench warfare also served with the 7th (Service) Battalion.  Born in the same year as Cyril, it is even possible that the two men served together.

Cyril died near the end of General Ludendorff’s spring offensive in 1918 just before the Battle of the Avre.  His body was not recovered and along with nearly 15,000 others he is remembered at the Pozieres British Cemetery and Memorial.

The inscription above the gate of the memorial reads:

"In memory of the Officers and Men of the Fifth and Fourth Armies who fought on the Somme battlefields 21st March to 7th August 1918 and of those of their dead who have no known graves".


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