Vivian Sumner Simpson

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Today the second of five posts telling a brief story of a man with links to Sheffield and their experiences of the carnage of the First World War as we approach the 100th anniversary of its end.

Today, Vivian Sumner Simpson who played football for Sheffield FC and for Sheffield Wednesday.

Vivian was born in Sheffield in 1883 into a middle class background.  He went to Wesley College, Sheffield (which became King Edward VII school near the Hallamshire Hospital) and trained to be a solicitor.  He was also a very good footballer but in a day of amateurs and professionals he wanted to stay amateur and he played for Sheffield FC – the oldest football club in the world.  However he did for a period play for Sheffield Wednesday as a forward, making 38 appearances and scoring 11 goals – including a hat trick against Manchester United.

At the outset of the war he wanted to enlist and became the first recruit on the roll of what would become the 12th battalion of the York and Lancaster regiment – better known as the Sheffield Pals battalion.  He went to France with his regiment and survived in the battle of the Somme.

In 1917 he was awarded a Military Cross and mentioned in despatches for his bravery in leading the capture of a German trench.  He was invalided home later after getting wounded and could had seen the rest of the war out at an officer training centre in England but instead decided to come back to his regiment on the Western Front.

He was killed by a German sniper in April 1918 near the French/Belgian border.  He is buried at Outtersteene Cemetery in France.  He is one of three former Sheffield Wednesday former players to have lost their lives in the first world war.  The other two were Walter Eaton (May 1917) and James Maxwell (April 1917).

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Wayne Chadburn

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