Private, TF/2117, 1/4th Royal Sussex Regiment
Killed in Action (death presumed), 10 August 1915,
during the Gallipoli campaign, aged 25
No known grave. Commemorated on Panel 125
of the Cape Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey

The Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
(Click to enlarge)

James Simmons was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Simmons (née Tester). He was born at Standen, near East Grinstead, in the Spring of 1890, and baptised on 26 March 1899.

James appears in the 1891 census at Standen soon after his birth. He was the youngest of eight children (three girls, five boys). His father was an agricultural (farm) labourer.

In the 1901 census he was living at 'Cottages', Charlwood Farm. His father, Joseph, 39, was an agricultural labourer and James, 11, now had four younger brothers and sisters. His three elder brothers, Alfred, William and John, were all agricultural labourers or domestic gardeners.

In the 1911 census James appears at Charlwood Farm aged 21, single, and his occupation is given as domestic gardener. He had one younger sister and two younger brothers.

James enlisted in the 1/4th Royal Sussex Regiment in August 1914 at Horsham. In April 1915 his unit was transferred to the 110th Brigade as part of the 53rd Welsh Division. Training took place at Cambridge and in May 1915 the unit moved to Bedford in preparation for the Gallipoli landings as part of an Allied attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve pressure on the Western Front and to open a supply route to Russia via the Black Sea. Commonwealth and French forces began landings in Gallipoli in April 1915, and in early August there were further landings at Suvla Bay. This was meant to be the climax of the campaign, a combined attack on three fronts. Due to the difficult terrain and stiff Turkish resistance little further serious movement took place. The Allies successfully evacuated the peninsula through December and January 1916. James Simmons died on 10 August 1915, only days after arriving at Suvla Bay.

James Simmons is commemorated on Panel 125 of the Helles memorial, where over 21,000 casualties are commemorated, of which 20,881 are identified. The memorial is an obelisk over 30 metres high situated on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, where it is visible to ships passing through the Dardanelles strait.

In December 1916 a credit of £2.18.8 was paid to James' mother Elizabeth and in late 1919 a War Gratuity of £3.0.0 was approved.

James would probably have been awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War Medal and Victory Medal. These three medals were commonly referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

A Memorial Death Plaque would automatically have been issued to his next of kin. These were issued to all those who died in action between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 — some 1,350,000 in total. They were sometimes called the 'Dead Man's Penny'.

A Memorial Death Plaque
(Click to enlarge)

The Remembrance Book in Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row, was signed by his mother, Elizabeth, of Charlwood Farm (Lodge), Sharpthorne, near East Grinstead.

Kevin Tillett