Captain VIVIAN SUMNER SIMPSON
Unit 12th York and Lancaster Regiment
Awards M C
Buried at OUTTERSTEENE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, BAILLEUL
He was an English amateur football forward in the Football League.
He played for Sheffield FC from 1901/02, a club whose entire playing squad enlisted upon the outbreak of hostilities, for whom he is considered to be one of their greatest players. A gentleman who was instrumental in probably the greatest day in Sheffield FC history, that of winning the 1904 Amateur Cup. He made at least 73 known Club appearances, where he scored 54 goals. Needless to say, in reality Simpson probably made many more appearances than this, and was likely to have scored several more goals.
“Simmy” as he was known to friends and colleagues, made his first Sheffield FC appearances in the 1900/01 season, after leaving Wesley College. As well as been well known for his footballing exploits, he was a keen cricketer and golfer, a fact his obituary paid great respect to – citing him as “one of the best in the region.”
It is for his exploits in the 1904 Amateur Cup run that Vivian is known for, as he played a key part in Sheffield reaching the final, scoring a hat-trick in the Quarter Final tie versus Darlington St. Augustine’s and another one versus Loughborough Corinthians. Sadly, he was injured whilst playing for The Wednesday in a FA Cup tie versus Tottenham Hotspur, and missed the final at Valley Parade versus Ealing.
Upon winning the Amateur Cup, Club commenced a tour of the North East immediately. As soon as the party returned to Sheffield, the trophy was taken to Simpson’s house, so that he could see the cup whilst still confined to his bed.
He also played for The Wednesday from 1901-06 making 31 appearances and scoring eleven goals. He signed for Norwich City (then of the Southern League) in 1907, but continued making cameo appearances for SFC as late as 1909, and remained a member of Club thereafter.
When war broke out in August 1914 he was anxious to join up but did not care to enlist as a private except in a Battalion of men of his own ‘class’. Word of this reached the Duke of Norfolk and the result was the formation of the 12th (Sheffield) Service Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. Vivian was the first recruit on the roll of this battalion who after training in England left for the front in June 1916 taking part in The Battle of The Somme. He played a leading part in the attack on Cordorna Trench and as the London Gazette reported “He was the first man into the enemy trench and was involved in hand-to-hand combat with the defenders.
He was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in dispatches in September 1917 for leading part of an attack on a German trench and organising the consolidation of the position.
His MC citation; ‘On 28th of June 1917 Capt. Simpson played a leading part in the attack on Cordorna Trench. He had also been heavily involved in the planning for this attack. He was the first man into the enemy trench and was involved in hand to hand combat with the defenders. Later he brilliantly organised the consolidation and protection of the newly won position’
Between November 1916 and February 1917, Simpson was promoted from a temporary second lieutenant to acting captain while commanding his company. He was promoted to acting captain and to command his company again in April 1917. In September 1917, Simpson was invalided back to Britain after suffering wounds and was posted to a role training junior officers in Sunderland. He later returned to the front and was killed by a sniper in the village of Outtersteene whilst ‘moving amongst the men, cheering them up with his unquenchable optimism’.