Mystery of Henry Walter Simmons DCM born 1873
After my father’s death ( Henry Walter YOUNG) a box of family medals was found at the back of a cupboard. Amongst them was a set for my Great Grandfather - Henry Walter SIMMONS, which include a Distinguished Conduct Medal. No living relative knew anything about this. My grandmother Gladys,Henry W SIMMONS daughter lived mainly in Croydon & Wales, married Walter YOUNG from Birmingham.
Henry Walter Simmons Medals:-
Boer war -Queen's Africa 3332 PTE H Simmons 2nd Surrey Regiment; King's Africa 3322 PTE H Simmons 2nd Surrey Regiment
Gallipolli-Distinguished Conduct Medal DCM 4-13142-Lance corporal H W SIMMONS South Wales Borderers
1914/15 star – Lance corporal H W SIMONS (spelling mistake) S.Wales Borderers
On writing to the Museum of the Welsh Borderers I established that there was no specific entry in the war diaries but a citation had been published in the supplement of London Gazette 21 June 1916
4/13142 L./C. H. W. SIMMONS, S. Wales Bord. (Spec. Res.), attd. 4th Bn.
For conspicuous good work in the company cookhouse, often under very difficult circumstances.
It would seem that conditions in the trenches had become so bad due to the adverse weather that many men were freezing to death. The cook and his team kept many men alive by getting hot drinks out onto the trenches, through the mud, snow and ice while facing enemy fire.
This triggered a memory for my Aunt that her Grand father’s nickname had been ‘cookie’. It also started a journey to try and find more about him and his background. I tracked a copy of my great grandparents marriage certificate 12th June 1898 in Thornton heath, Surrey - Henry W SIMMONS to Maude OSBORNE which lists Henry’s age as 24 giving year of birth circa 1874. His father is listed as Henry SIMMONS deceased, occupation policeman.
Further research led me to a birth certificate for Henry Walter SIMMONS 3rd March 1873; mother Sarah SIMMONS – father’s name and occupation left blank and place of residence is 5 Parchmore Terrace,Thornton Heath
1881 Census records show Henry Walter SIMMONS age 8, step-son, living with William MARTIN and Sarah MARTIN at 6 Parchmore Terrace, interestingly next door to where Sarah was living when Henry was born. Following another conversation with my Aunt she remembered as a young child visiting an old lady know to them as Granny MARTIN.
Further research led me to a copy of the marriage certificate for William MARTIN and Sarah SIMMONS 4th October 1880 in Croydon Surrey. Sarah age 25, spinster- Father, Henry SIMMONS, labourer.
This is where the story ends so far. As a newcomer to family history so far I have been unable to trace Henry's father or Sarah SIMMONS family line.
Was Henry Walter SIMMONS was born out of wedlock; Sarah would have been a teenager?
Did Sarah marry her neigbour William for love or convenience?
Were the details of Henry’s father on the marriage certificate just added to seem proper using his Grandfather’s name and a sound occupation of policeman?
Next steps to solve this mystery? I assume that Henry W SIMMONS was baptised at some point before he was married at the parish church, Thornton Heath in 1898 so try to locate the record? What was the full name of the church?
Continue the search to find Sarah SIMMONS family.
Continue to research the YOUNG family line and the MARTIN line and see if anyone else has picked up the SIMMONS link?
Any ideas gratefully received.