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Archibald Simpson

1901 Census – resident at 46 Greengate, Malton
BEDALE, John, Head, Married, M, 50, Bricklayers Labourer, Malton Yorkshire,
, Ellen, Wife, Married, F, 49, , Snainton Yorkshire,
BEDALE, Elizabeth, Daughter, Single, F, 25, Laundress, Malton Yorkshire,
BEDALE, Harold, Son, Single, M, 20, Joiner, Malton Yorkshire,
BEDALE, Minnie, Daughter, Single, F, 15, Dressmaker, Malton Yorkshire,
TINKLER, Annie, Boarder, Single, F, 11, , Bradford Yorkshire,
SIMPSON, Archie, Boarder, Single, M, 7, , Bradford Yorkshire,

By 1911 they were still living at the same address but John had retired from his work as a labourer and was working as a caretaker, while Archie was now employed as a railway labourer.

1911 Census – resident at 46 Greengate, Malton
BEDALE, John, Head, Married 35 years, M, 60, Club Caretaker, Malton Yorks,
BEDALE, Ellen, Wife, Married 35 years, F, 59, Laundry Work, Snaiton Yorks,
BEDALE, Elizabeth, Daughter, Single, F, 34, At Home Helps, Malton Yorks,
SIMPSON, Archie, Adopted Son, Single, M, 16, Labourer N E R, Bradford Yorks,

When war was declared in August 1914 Archie was among the first men to leave Malton with the 5th battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment , so either he joined up extremely fast or he was already a member of the Territorial Army.

The 1/5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment was in the 150th Brigade of the 50th [Northumbrian] Division and was a Territorial Force from the South part of the North Riding of Yorkshire. They were known as the Scarborough or Beverley "Terriers" and originally these two towns, along with neighbouring Driffield, Malton, Pickering, Bridlington, Filey etc provided the Volunteers.

At the outbreak of war the men of the 5th Battalion left Malton immediately as recorded by the Malton Messenger of 5th August 1914.



Scenes which will be long remembered by the inhabitants of the town were witnessed in Malton on Wednesday, when the Territorials (“H” Company 5th Battalion Alexandra Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment) marched from the headquarters in Old Maltongate to the railway station. The men quickly responded to the call and were ready on Tuesday night. Many of them were in the streets until a late hour, mingling with the crowds which gathered near the Messenger office and other parts of the town. It was at first understood that they would leave for an unknown destination at 8.30 on Wednesday morning, and the streets presented a busy scene; gradually, however, it became known that they were to leave at 12.30, and long before that time the streets from the headquarters in Old Maltongate to the Railway Station were lined with people who were eagerly discussing the grave crisis.

About half-past twelve o’clock a move was made from headquarters, Lieutenant Pickles being in command of about 65 men, preceded by the White Star Band, which played lively airs on route to the station. The territorials, who turned out smartly, were cheered again and again as they marched past, men on the pavements waving hats and sticks and women waving handkerchiefs and shouting “good-bye” and “good luck”. On nearing the station the band turned aside near the Goods Yard and allowed Lieutenant Pickles and his men to walk into the station, to the hearty cheers of the vast crowd which had assembled there. The band fell in at the rear and passed onto the station platform, where the Territorials were drawn up near to the telegraph office.

It was impossible to admit all the followers into the station but a large number succeeded in in gaining admission, mostly those who had relatives in the ranks. The men were very cheerful, and there was a good deal of hand-shaking before the train in which they were to leave arrived.

In the brief interval a representative of the “Messenger” held a conversation with Lieutenant Pickles who stated that they were going on to Scarborough to await orders.

At about 10 minutes to one o’clock the train arrived, and after more hand-shaking and “good-byes” Lieutenant Pickles and his men took their seats. The band played “Auld Lang Syne” and many pathetic incidents were witnessed amongst the crowd of men and women on the Norton end of the station as the train passed out, the male portion of those on the platform uncovering their heads as the band played the National Anthem.

In 1915 the Battalion became part of 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. In early April the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began on 16 April, landing at Boulogne. Archie went out to France with the first batch from that Battalion arriving at Boulogne on H.M. Transport “Onward” on 18th April. They arrived at 1.50 a.m. and after less than 24 hours in Camp were entrained, arriving at Cassels at 6.0 am and marched to Steenvoorde twelve ‘hot and very tiring’ miles to billets outside the village of Steenvoorde, where they had finally rested, for three whole days. On the 23rd they were on the move again, proceeding by Motor Buses to Vlamertinghe and from thence marched to A Huts at Ypres arriving just as the German army had attacked at Ypres, using poison gas for the first time. ‘As they tramped along the pave road, with Vlamertinghe and Ypres ahead, the boom of guns became even louder. Crowds of refugees were met, hurrying westwards with handcarts perambulators and almost any kind of vehicle laden with all the worldly possessions left to them’

That night they moved forward to the banks of the Yser Canal in support of 2nd Zouaves. The Battalion lined the Canal banks under the shelter of a ridge before daylight, the men shortly afterwards digging themselves into shelter holes. B Company, which was somewhat exposed, suffered minor casualties from overdropping bullets.

That morning they had their first experience of shell fire, but sustained no injury. Shortly in the afternoon the Battalion was ordered to cross the Canal and support the Canadians at Chateau, where it reported at 3.0 pm being subject to rifle and shell fire en route and was immediately ordered to proceed to Saint Jean to the support of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade. This village was soon afterwards in flames and the Battalion skirting its rear, skirmished across open country under heavy shelling to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade HQ. They now came under Canadian command and were ordered tol take up a position and entrench, being ready to counter attack when necessary There was constant rain all night and several men were  wounded and one killed.

At 3.00 a.m. on the 25th they received orders to proceed to Fortuin. En route they passed a number of detached bodies of troops in retreat. They arrived at the rendezvous about 5.00 am in company with 5th Durham Light Infantry and with the daylight shelling began. B and C Companies occupied the line of reserve trenches on the right of the road, but no shelter was  available for the A and D Companies except the hedge bottom on roadside. About 6.00 am these latter Companies advanced to support of Royal Irish across open field and were met with heavy shrapnel fire.Leading parties obtained the objective when the order was given to retire as Royal Irish were falling back. In this movement A and D Companies suffered severely, losing 8 killed and about 40. They then dug themselves in the hedge bottom of a field to the left of the road. D Coy in line with B and C and with A at right angles on the left of D Coy.

Alternating bursts of the shell and rifle fire continued throughout the day. About noon the DLI, who had been ordered to search a farmhouse requested assistance and a party of 25 of D Company was sent out. It was met by the fire of a Machine Gun concealed in the house and two members of the party were instantly killed. Capt Purvis reported small parties of Germans due North in trenches. Orderlies were sent to Brigade stating that "Enemy was inclined to press" and asking "Have you any orders ?". No reply could be obtained.

Other casualties occurred from shell and rifle fire, which died down at nightfall on 25th April 1915, when the dead were collected and buried. Among the dead was Archibald Simpson aged just 19. Like all those buried that day, his grave was destroyed in the fighting of the next three years and they are all remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.

By the first week in May his adopted parents received a letter from Colonel Thomson, breaking the news:

“It is my painful duty to write and inform you that Private Simpson was killed in action on Monday last. It will be some small comfort for you to know that he suffered no agony, death being instantaneous. He was a popular fellow with all his comrades and will be missed both by his officers and men. Please accept my deepest sympathy in this your sad bereavement, and I hope that the fact that he laid down his life for his country’s sake will alleviate our heavy burden to some degree”.

Harold Gibson who served with him wrote home to his brother Fred :

May 8th 1915

Dear Fred,

Just received your welcome box of ??????????? of tea & am thankful for some ????????? they will be very useful - I am in the pink & never felt better, hope you are all the same. We have had a rough time since we came here but what I have seen of Belgium makes me fit to face anything & nobody need begrudge doing a little bit towards ending the war. I had no idea that battle was so bad till I got in it, once you are in it you don’t seem to care a fiddle, as regards the good name we got I could explain how we got it to you better if I was at home & how we saved the situation. I was surprised at the boys & more so at myself. poor young Simpson wasn’t far of me when he was knocked out but it was instant death poor kid tell them at his home he died like a man & a soldier for a cause - well I shall have to close as we are moving today where to I don’t know. Give my best respects to Mary & Mrs Warwich - hoping to hear from you again.

I remain

Your loving Brother


Archie is commemorated in St Leonard’s and Saville Street churches and on the Town Memorial.

Archibald (Archie) Simpson was the adopted son of John and Ellen Bedale (nee Megson).  John and Ellen who married in the Scarborough area in the third quarter of 1874 had several children but seem to have adopted two children after their youngest child was born, both from West Yorkshire.  Archie seems to have been adopted from Bradford but it is possible that he was the unnamed Simpson male child registered in Huddersfield in the third quarter of1894, given that the other child, Annie Tinkler, mentioned in the census of 1901 as a boarder from Bradford, was living in Bradford in 1891 but was actually born in Halifax.

It seems likely that Archie came to Malton from the Nutter Orphanage for Boys in Bradford.  This was established by a legacy of Joseph Nutter, a Halifax man who had been successful in business in Bradford and left the sum of £10,000 to found and endow the home which was erected on Cousen Road. The foundation stone for the building was laid on Wednesday, May 30th, 1888, with its opening taking place just over a year later on June 19th, 1889. The home was intended for the maintenance and education of orphan boys from Bradford, of whom twenty-four were initially accommodated.

A regular feature of the boys' summer was a three week holiday away from the home. For several years in the mid-1890s, the boys went to Castle Howard where they stayed in cottage homes at Bulmer, under the care of Mrs Willis, the matron of the orphanage. It would seem highly likely that this is how Archie’s path in life crossed with that of John and Ellen Bedale. They seem to have been active members of the Methodist church and it is likely that they saw the adoption of Archie and Ellen as part of their Christian duty.

In 1901 the Bedale household was living at 46 Greengate. Their two youngest children were both working, but neither of the adopted children is listed as a scholar so education seems not to have been a priority.