The Airmen's Stories - P/O G M Simpson
Geoffrey Mervyn Simpson was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 22nd June 1919. He attended Christ's College there from 1933 to 1935. He was employed as a clerk and joined the territorials in February 1936, serving in the 1st Canterbury Regiment.
In mid-June 1938 Simpson was provisionally accepted for an RAF short service commission and sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitata on 25th August.
Simpson began his training at 9 E&RFTS Ansty in early October, then, after a short spell at Uxbridge, he went to 6 FTS Little Rissington on 28th December. He was awarded his flying badge on 6th May 1939 and was posted in August to 8 ATS Lossiemouth for advanced training on Wallace and Henley aircraft.
On 6th November Simpson joined 229 Squadron, newly-reformed at Digby with Blenheims. In March 1940 these were replaced by Hurricanes.
On 16th May F/Lt. FE Rosier led 'A' Flight to France, Simpson included. On the 18th he destroyed a Me110 and on the 21st two more. It was his last sortie in France and Simpson returned to Digby the next day.
229 Squadron took part in operations over Dunkirk while based at Biggin Hill and using Manston as its forward base. After being sent to Digby on 5th June, it moved to Wittering at the end of the month to build up again to operational strength. The squadron moved south to Biggin Hill on 10th September.
On the 15th Simpson shared in destroying a He111. On 26th October 1940 229 took off to patrol the Croydon area, in company with 302 Squadron. A number of Me109's were seen and 302, followed by 229, gave chase, pursuing the enemy fighters to the French coast. They lost them and turned for home.
Simpson, leading Blue Section, saw a He59 flying low off the coast in the vicinity of Boulogne. He went down, accompanied by Sgt. RJ Ommanney and P/O DBH McHardy. After two bursts from Ommanney the floatplane alighted on the sea, with three of its four crew killed. The Hurricanes were then attacked from the rear by Me109's and ground fire from the shore.
Ommanney was able to disengage and return but Simpson and McHardy were last seen heavily engaged by Me109's and failed to return. McHardy was later reported to be a PoW but Simpson was not heard of again. He was in Hurricane W6669.
He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 6 and his name is on the reredos in St George's Chapel of Remembrance at Biggin Hill (below).
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner