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Arnold Simkin Jackson

Arnold Simkin Jennings was the only son of Thomas Simkin Jennings and his second wife Amy (nee Rawbone). Thomas and Amy married on 19th June 1889 in Stockton, Warwickshire.  At this time Thomas was a 43 year old widower with five children by his previous wife, Eleanor, living in Rotherham and working as a post office clerk.   We can assume that Thomas was then working in the Stockton Post Office where Amy’s father was postmaster. Thomas was promoted to Chief Clerk at the Rotherham post office and their daughter Margery Evelyn was born in January 1891 in Rotherham. Presumably soon after that Thomas took a new job as Arnold was born on 10th February, 1893 in Jarrow-on –Tyne, County Durham. Clearly they returned to Stockton and Amy’s home church for Arnold’s christening as he was baptised in Stockton church 11th June 1893.

Thomas’ ambition continued to keep the family on the move, as the 1901 census finds them in Kilmarnock in Scotland where Thomas was now Postmaster.

1901 Census resident at London Road, Milburn, Kilmarnock,  Ayrshire, Scotland

Thomas Simkin Jennings, head, m, male, 55, Post Master (Post Office), England

Amy Jennings, wife, m, female, 43,-, England

Margarry Evelyn Jennings, daughter, -, female, 10, Scholar, England

Arnold Simkin Jennings, son, -, male, 8, Scholar, England

Arnold was being educated at Kilmarnock Academy, but this did not last long as by 1902 they were on the move again and in 1902 both children enrolled at Oldham Hulme Grammar School where they stayed for five years.  

While Thomas and Amy seem to have stayed in Oldham by 1908 both children were accepted by boarding schools in York, Margery at The Mount and Arnold at Bootham School.  Both these schools were Quaker foundations, but the family is listed in The Mount’s admission register as Wesleyan,  and Arnold is commemorated on the Saville Street War memorial. However Margery was withdrawn from The Mount before taking up her place.  

At Bootham, Arnold was a member of the school football team and was known as a steady half-back as well as being a good speaker and essayist, and a great botanist.

1911 Census resident at Bootham School, York

Arnold Simkin Jennings, Boarder, S, M, 18, School, Durham Jarrow

At some point the family seem to have moved to Malton, living at “Sonnenburg”, Middlecave, Malton and becoming active in the Methodist church. Arnold became a member of the Surveyors’ Institute and worked in the Land Valuation department. In this respect he took after his paternal grandfather, Daniel, who had also been a surveyor.

After the outbreak of war, Arnold volunteered for active service and enrolled in the Royal Army Medical Corps in June 1915. By 3rd November of that year he was serving as part of the Salonika Army serving as a private in the 28th General Hospital.  From 1915 Salonika (now Thessalonika) was the base of the British Salonika Force and it contained, from time to time, eighteen general and stationary hospitals.

He continued there throughout the war and was still there in December 1918 when he contracted pneumonia, and died of it on 21st December 1918. He was then serving as Acting Corporal.

His commanding officer wrote “I have been his commanding officer for ten months, and have nothing but praise for him in every way. I always found him most hard-working and reliable. I am afraid his keen sense of duty may have been contributory to his death. He was a great favourite with everyone in the unit.”

Arnold was buried in Mikra British Cemetery in Kalamaria on the outskirts of Salonika.   The earliest Commonwealth burials had taken place in the local Protestant and Roman Catholic cemeteries, and the Anglo-French (now Lembet Road) Military Cemetery was used from November 1915 to October 1918. The British cemetery at Mikra was opened in April 1917, remaining in use until 1920.

By the time that headstones were being carved for those buried there, His parents had moved to “Brandreth”, Clarence Road, Four Oaks, Birmingham near Sutton Coldfield.  As well as the regimental details on his tombstone they requested an extra inscription: “A great soul in a small house.”

Arnold is commemorated on the memorials in Saville Street Methodist Church and on the Memorial in St Michael’s Church as well as the town memorial.