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Thread: Thomas Joseph Simpson

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    Default Thomas Joseph Simpson

    I sadly relay news that Thomas Joseph Simpson has passed away today. K

    Thomas Joseph Simpson has served both King and Country and Queen and Country, at home and overseas, on land and at sea, in peace time and at war, in English and in French, he has served under the White Ensign and the Maple Leaf and in uniform and as a volunteer in his community over decades.

    Thomas Simpson has dedicated his life of 95 years to the betterment of Canada and the City of Windsor and it is a pleasure to share this story which would otherwise be unknown.

    Thomas Joseph Simpson was born on Sunday November 6, 1921. His father emigrated from Cumberland, England and served in the Canadian Army during the Great War despite being a “deaf-mute”. In fact both his mother and father were ‘deaf-mutes’. His parents met each other at a group designated for “deaf-mutes” in Windsor, Ontario in 1920. Tom Simpson is quite different from other people in this regard as he was very limited in communication with his parents as child. Tom used American Sign Language to communicate with his parents. Growing up in this environment was a unique challenge for Tom Simpson especially since he was the oldest child in the family. In this regard he was bilingual.

    The term ‘deaf-mute’ although considered to be a derogatory term today, it is used solely in its historical context as the term was common in the 1920's and 1930's and the term in which Thomas Simpson uses to describe his parents and so the term I use without any derogatory meaning.

    Growing up as the oldest in this family during the Great Depression he worked in the fields of Essex County picking tobacco and field tomatoes in the summer months to support his family. During the summers of 1933, 1934 and 1935, Tom worked in the onion and tabacco fields of Essex County near Ruthven and Leamington, Ontario. He slept in a barn at night while earning $1 a day for picking onions and tabacco. He would hitch-hike back to Windsor on the weekends and give the money that he earned to his parents which would support the family including a younger sister and younger brother, during a time that was at the height of the "Great Depression". This is what my grandfather did during the summer vacations of his late school years. Conditions in the 1930's and during the Great Depression were bad for the family but would have been much worse without this income.

    Tom Simpson quit school in 1935 to work full-time as the Great Depression grew worse. He would never return to school again. He never finished grade ten. He never obtained a high school education and yet, he is one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent people that I have known. And I say that having attended university for six years. I have been around many educated and smart people in my life but never one whose wisdom and life experiences matched my grandfather’s in any way close. One of my grandfather’s first full-time jobs at the age of 15 years old was being a "delivery boy" for a local pharmacy in Windsor called "HUNTER PHARMACY" in 1936. He made deliveries by bicycle.

    When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Tom Simpson joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) as an Ordinary Seaman at HMCS HUNTER in Windsor, Ontario which was then at the time in the building called "TELEDO SCALES" which pre-dates the old HMCS HUNTER building on Ouellette Avenue in Windsor which housed Canada’s naval reserve unit in Windsor from 1944-2014. Tom completed his initial basic training at the original HMCS HUNTER location in the ‘TELEDO SCALES’ building.

    Today serving members at HMCS HUNTER in Windsor are not even aware of this original location of HMCS HUNTER. Even the few remaining World War Two navy veterans in Windsor who joined after 1942 would not remember this original location. My grandfather is indeed living history.

    Simpson’s service at HMCS HUNTER in 1939 and early 1940 was short-lived as his Aunt complained in person and by letter to Paul Martin Sr. Paul Martin Sr. was a noted Canadian politician and who was the father of Paul Martin Jr., who served as Prime Minister of Canada from 2003–2006. Paul Martin Sr. was a Member of Parliament for Essex East, which riding was abolished in 1966 yet at the time was responsible for the Windsor-Walkerville area where Thomas Simpson lived. Thomas Simpson’s Aunt complained that Thomas Simpson was unfit to serve and stated that he was needed at home to work full-time since he was the bread-winner however she lied to expedite this happening by stating falsely that Thomas Simpson had a ‘heart-murmur’. This was untrue. However, Thomas Simpson’s Aunt succeeded in pressing Paul Martin Sr. to contact the Commanding Officer at HMCS HUNTER and have Thomas Simpson released from the RCNVR due to health problems. This was the first of many poor experiences that the Royal Canadian Navy gave to my grandfather.

    After leaving the RCNVR, in early 1940, Thomas Simpson joined the "Ford Motor Company" in Windsor, Ontario as a ‘Trade Inspector’ on the assembly line. Ford Motor Company was the largest employer in Canada at this time and remained so for a number of years. At the outbreak of World War II, Canada's relatively large and modern automobile industry was shifted over to the production of military vehicles. These military vehicles supplied both the Canadian Army and the British Empire. During the War Canadian made trucks and jeeps saw service around the world in the North African Campaign, the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Italian Campaign, the Russian Front, the Burma Campaign, the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42), the liberation of Northwest Europe, and the Western Allied invasion of Germany. Tom Simpson worked at FORD MOTOR COMPANY in 1940 and 1941 earning $2 a day.

    My grandfather married my grandmother on May 30, 1942 and shortly thereafter received notice from the Department of National Defence that he was to enlist in the Armed Forces as the threat from Germany grew greater. Tom Simpson’s first daughter was born in August 1942 and that same week he enlisted (again) in the Royal Canadian Navy at HMCS HUNTER as a radar operator. There was no kicking him out this time. The navy needed him.

    I am very proud to say that my grandfather was one of the very first to be trained as a Radar Operator in the Royal Canadian Navy. He was rushed through his radar training on the west coast of Canada in Esquimalt, British Columbia just as fast as the Corvettes were built and put to sea. He served in the deepest seas and in the most hostile storms on board the first HMCS SHAWINIGAN (K136), the first HMCS TORONTO (K538), and HMCS LA HULLOISE (K668), battling the most deadly and threatening enemy the world has seen. My grandfather served in several different aspects of the Battle of the Atlantic.

    During the Battle of the St. Lawrence, he took part in escort operations and coastal defense operations from Halifax to Newfoundland to New York.

    During the longest battle of the Second World War; the Battle of the Atlantic, he participated in the escort groups that took ONS, ON and HX North Atlantic convoys mostly originating from Halifax, Nova Scotia and Sydney, Nova Scotia across the Atlantic to Londonderry and Liverpool.

    In the Arctic Campaign, he participated in convoys sometimes called the ‘Great Northern Patrol’ where convoys passed both through the Denmark Straits or south of Iceland to as far as the Arctic Circle where convoys were handled over to the Russian Navy. Protection of these convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic was vital to winning the war.

    During the Italian Campaign, he took part in KMF Mediterranean–United Kingdom convoys and MKS Gibraltar-United Kingdom convoys that transported British and Canadian troop convoys for military operations in Italy and Sicily from England and Gibraltar.

    During the British Isles Inshore Campaign of 1944-1945 he participated in missions and operations in which he performed his duties with outstanding skill and seamanship that would set a new standard at the time with his wholehearted devotion to duty, worthy of the high traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy and which are maintained as a measure of excellence in the Royal Canadian Navy today.

    Thomas Simpson was one of the first sailors to use radar in the Royal Canadian Navy. As a 20 year old, Thomas Simpson was one of the first and youngest Canadians to be trained as a radar operator. Simpson was one of the very first sailors to complete a radar course in Royal Canadian Navy history.

    By the time he was drafted to HMCS LA HULLOISE (K668) Simpson had a high level of pride in his duties, confidence in his skills and expertise with his radar set that he could “pick-up a car on a mountain”. As a radar operator his role in hunting German U-Boats was extremely vital in keeping the shipping lanes open and the waters around the United Kingdom and Canada safe.

    His proficiency as a radar operator saw him called before the Admiralty to explain in detail his skill that resulted in the saving of hundreds of Allied lives with the sinking of German U-Boat 1302. His gallantry, resolution and skill was NOT acknowledged by his Commanding Officer because the Commanding Officer of HMCS LA HULLOISE only recommended Thomas Simpson for a mentioned in dispatches (MiD).

    The Royal Canadian Navy Honours and Awards Committee largely ignored Thomas Simpson’s role in the sinking of German U-1302.
    However, the Commander in-Chief of the Western Approaches, Admiral Sir Max Horton and Commodore of the Western Approaches George Walter Simpson reviewed the sinking and insisted that the importance of Thomas Simpson’s actions be award with the Distinguished Service Medal and changed the Royal Canadian Navy’s lower award recommendation. I know these details from evidence from the Admiralty Files pointing out that the Royal Canadian Navy did not support my grandfather for a medal. The DSM awarded to Thomas Simpson was clearly from the recommendation of the Royal Navy. His bravery at sea would have went unrecognized were it not for the Royal Navy.

    It was the Royal Navy who insisted that my grandfather be awarded a decoration of at least the Distinguished Service Medal. The Royal Canadian Navy never wanted to award my grandfather this medal. This appears to me to be an issue of why the Royal Canadian Navy refuses to extend respect and honour to my grandfather even to this day.

    Thomas Simpson was one of only 116 people to receive the Distinguished Service Medal in Canadian military history. Hundreds of sailor’s lives saved that night now more than 71 years ago and the importance and significance of that action in naval history should be remembered.

    My grandfather is a holder of the Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M) which was awarded gallantry, bravery, resolution and skill during battle at sea whilst serving on HMCS LA HULLOISE in successful anti U-Boat Warfare. He is a holder of the Italy Star, France Star and Germany Star with Atlantic Star bar, the 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with CVSM Clasp, General Service Badge, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

    After the war, my grandfather struggled often with survivor guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder from the sinking of HMCS SHAWINIGAN, the sinking of German submarine 1302 and other experiences associated with war. With no high school education having quit school during the Great Depression to support his family finding stable employment proved difficult. With his training as a radar operator he studied electronics to repair televisions and radios.

    In 1964, he was recruited by the Government of Canada to serve his country again as a Customs and Immigration Officer at the Windsor/Detroit border. His determination and successful leadership saw him rise to the top of the Windsor Customs Union which he served as President until his retirement in 1987.

    My grandfather was always very active in the Windsor community. He was one of the founding members the Royal Canadian Naval Association Branch in Windsor, Ontario. He was a leader and organizer of numerous Battle of the Atlantic Memorials and parades since the early 1950's with the Royal Canadian Naval Association as well as with the Royal Canadian Legion in Windsor, Ontario.

    After his retirement from Canada Customs he volunteered his time to the organization of the Windsor Essex County Senior Sports Organization Slo-Pitch league for senior citizens in 1988.

    During this time he also initiated the HMCS SHAWINIGAN Memorial project which was eventually successful in establishing a memorial to the 91 sailors who died on HMCS SHAWINIGAN. The memorial was erected in 1996 in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

    Thomas Simpson has been a member and volunteer with the War Pensioners of Canada in Windsor, Ontario since it's beginnings in 1947.

    Thomas Simpson is one of the last crewmembers of HMCS SHAWINIGAN and HMCS LA HULLOISE, he is the last living member of HMCS TORONTO, one of the oldest radar operators in the RCN, he is the last living Distinguished Service Medal receipent in Canada, and he is the only Canadian to ever receive the DSM and the Queen's Medal.

    Written by Ron Simpson, Grandson
    January 24, 2017
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: Thomas Joseph Simpson

    Windsor war veteran and recipient of Distinguished Service Medal dies at age 95

    Windsor war veteran and recipient of Distinguished Service Medal dies | Windsor Star
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: Thomas Joseph Simpson

    In memory of Thomas Joseph Simpson

    THE EMPTY CHAIR

    Mark me absent captain,
    I'm afraid I can't be there.
    Explain to all new shipmates
    about the empty chair.

    Talk to them of Dunkirk
    D'Day and victory on the beach.
    Tell them too of Arnhem
    and the cost of that defeat.

    Look to the men of the jungles
    and the hell of the Far East War.
    Know well the meaning of Friendship
    and the value of Esprit De Corps.

    Mark me absent Captain
    I just can't make it tonight.
    But drink to me in the mess lads
    and to the days of our gallant fight.

    Hold your pen there Captain,
    lets get the minutes straight.
    Mark that shipmate "Present"
    though delayed, maybe late.

    Look to the empty chair lads,
    and know the reason why, we
    formed this association that
    these deeds should never die.

    Yes drink in the mess tonight lads,
    but let this be your toast.
    That often the saddest memories
    are the ones we treasure most.

    Though wars in other countries,
    still rage and never cease.
    These shipmates we now honour
    gave us sixty years of peace.

    Their names are carved on many
    stones in distant War Grave Fields.
    They stand to show a spirit that
    though broken did not yield.

    Should we mark him absent
    Do so if you dare. But before you
    pen that entry, Look well
    to the empty chair.

    Published in the Bosuns Call 1989.
    John Stephens, Skegness Branch
    Royal Naval Association
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: Thomas Joseph Simpson

    Thomas J. Simpson (Nov. 6, 1921 - Jan. 28, 2017)

    27067585_1709209885784665_5390898966753565241_n.jpg

    "With his death on Saturday January 28, 2017 Canada has lost one of the greatest of a generation that put service before self. Brave and courageous and with a heart of oak, Thomas Simpson summed up the sort of Canadian that we all wished we could be".
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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