Thomas Mark Simmons was born in Dorking 1867, he married Olive Steer in 1889 at Billingshurst where Olive was born in 1872. They were living there in 1891, where their son Alfred was born in that year, but by 1893 when George arrived they had moved to Oxshott. In 1901, the census records show they were living in Steels Lane, Oxshott and Thomas worked in the Littleheath (Cooks) Brickworks. He was still working there in 1911, but had moved to live in No. 4, Brickfield Cottages, Littleheath Lane. They lived locally until Olive died in 1940 and Thomas in 1958.
By the time War was declared in 1914, their eldest son Alfred had already left the family home back around 1910 and married Caroline Dalton in Coventry. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. South Staffordshire Regiment and his address at the time of the 1911 census was the Royal Artillary Barracks, Bullyard, Hertford St. Coventry.
They had three children, born in 1913,1914 & 1916.
During WW1 Alfred served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. with the Service No.7250218. He was awarded, the medals, 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal, which are affectionatly known as Pip Squek & Wilfred. and the General Service medal with Iraq Clasp. (ref. Nat. Archive WW1 medal card index).
Thomas and Olive’s next son George, who was born in Oxshott, was living and working there at the time of the 1911 census.
George, in WW1 from Alan Simmons family memories.
George’s son Alan’s recollections of the last war, ‘At the age of six, I was standing by our old radio with my mother and Grandmother, then as the war was announced, my mother, said “Oh no, no, not again, not again!” It was not until later in life that I should learn why Mother reacted the way she did.
Going back to the 1914-18 war, Mum and Dad were courting. Dad – George – went into the Rifle Brigade, based at Winchester after joining up in August 1914, when war broke out. He was only just twenty years old and joined with his pal from Oxshott, Joe Auger. They served in France and George was first wounded in action in 1915, shot clean through his left wrist, then after treatment in a field hospital he was sent on sick leave.
They saw much action and fighting together, then they were sent up to relieve the front line and within a short time Joe was shot through the head. You can see his name on the war memorial on top of the Heath Hill. (Joe was moved to a Casualty Clearing Station at Beauval and it’s possible that George was wounded around the same time?). George’s hand mended well, but the bones of the wrist fused together, making his right arm rigid from the elbow to the knuckles. But his trigger finger still worked, so he was sent back to the front line again.
He operated a Vickers machine gun and so was a marked man. Some time later in another action a medical chap was dressing a wound he received when a sniper shot Dad again, through the head. The medic removed Dad’s identity discs, and left him for dead, but his steel helmet had saved him. It had turned the bullet which only split the side of his head. Meanwhile, however, back home he was reported dead prayers were said in church.
The Germans were advancing when someone saw him make a slight movement so he was taken back, unconscious to a German hospital with head and shoulder wounds, where a surgeon saved his life, he had no identity discs and was an Unknown Soldier.
After several months he was well enough to send a card to my Grandparents in Little Heath Lane – and was ‘born again’, after his signature was confirmed. As he got better, he had the choice of either being in a prisoner-of-war camp or working on a German farm. On the advice of the doctor, who said ‘his only interest was to save life’, he went for the farm work, as a prisoner so he would have extra rations, fresh air and exercise and no time to sit bored and brooding.
Finally, the War was over and George had survived and was able to return home and marry my mother.
I have a sister who is the eldest, then a older brother and when mother was expecting me in the early 1930’s, Dad had a check up with his doctor as he had chest problems, thought to be TB. After treatment he was thought to have been cured, but had to go back for a final check up six months later and have fluid removed from his lungs, he was then sent home, but a couple of days later he became seriously ill, it would seem from an infection caught during the check up, he was taken back to St. Thomas’s Hospital where he died the next day on 07 Jun 1932.
Mother said she was one of the few who wore black for the same man twice!
Our accommodation went with the work, and mother had to be out within a week. So we returned to my grandparents, on Mother’s side. Then I arrived on the scene. So it was that I was with my Grandmother and Mother by the radio when the war was announced – both my brother and sister were out.’
(From Fedora Newsletter (Oxshott) – Spring 2001SHC file ref. SHC ref. 4472/2)
George’s sweetheart was Eunice Isabella Young who was born in 1892 in Sussex. By 1911 she was in domestic service in Oxshott, where the wedding took place on 30 June 1920, at St Andrews Church, Oxshott, Surrey. George was then employed as a chauffeur to Dr. T C Blackwell, the first resident doctor in Oxshott. Their three children were born 1921, 1926 and 1932,
Thomas and Olive’s youngest son, Maurice Simmons was born in 1900, in Oxshott, Surrey, and lived with the family. No further information has been found.
Source, Alan Simmons, from Fedora Newsletter (Oxshott) – Spring 2001SHC file ref. SHC ref. 4472/2
National Archive, via Ancestry, Census, Birth, Marriage, Death records & confirmed by A. Simmons (4/2018)