A WOUNDED GORDON HIGHLANDER'S RETURN TO TOWCESTER.
When it became known on Saturday afternoon that Corporal Ernest Simmonds, of the Gordon Highlanders, who had been very severely wounded in the head and legs at the front, and had been in Netley Hospital for some months, was expected to arrive at Towcester by the 4.45 train on a short visit to his mother, the inhabitants quickly arranged to give him a hearty reception. The firemen in their uniforms, bearing lighted torches, and a large number of friends and townspeople, assembled at the station. As the train steamed in, hearty cheers were given for the gallant young soldier, and as soon as he had alighted from the train he was assisted by his brothers to a carriage which was decorated with flags, and on the seat of which Captain Crow and another fireman were seated bearing lighted torches. Amidst cheers, the horses were then taken out, and headed by the firemen bearing lighted torches, the carriage was drawn by willing hands through the town to Corporal Simmonds's home. Mr. S. C. Simmonds, on behalf of his brother, who seemed thoroughly exhausted by his journey, his wounds having left him very weak and lame, thanked all his friend most heartily for the grand reception they had given his brother that evening. He was sure his brother felt it very much indeed, and that he was proud to think that he had done his duty to his Queen and country. (Loud cheering). The company then dispersed.
Lance-Corporal Simmonds was, before the war broke out, following his father's profession of a musician at Aberdeen. He was also a Volunteer, and when there was a call for civilian soldiers he was one of the first to respond. After being to the front in many engagements, he was terribly wounded at the battle of Doornkop, an explosive bullet going in near the right temple and coming out at the back of his head. Whilst on the ground he was shot through the leg, a Mauser bullet going in at the knee and coming out at the back of the calf. These serious wounds were inflicted on his father's birthday. Though still suffering severely from the effects of his wounds, he is in good spirits, and his only regret is that he is incapacitated for further military service.
Northampton Mercury, Friday 30th November 1900
SIMMONDS. - March 18th, at Kington, Herefordshire, Ernest Lovell, fourth son of the late William Simmonds, of Towcester, aged 28.
Northampton Mercury, Friday 21st March 1902
He's named on Towcester's memorial plaque in the Parish Church (Northamptonshire).
Palmer roll shows "13 Simmonds E.L., L/cpl, Sly Wnd. Doornkop 29/5/00, Vol. Co, 1 Gordons". Stirling in "Our Regiments" covers the Gordons' part in the Doornkop/Florida action in detail. The frontal attack cost the Gordons heavy casualties; a count in SAFF gives 94 in total. Stirling gives 97 dead and wounded.
Doornkop, it might be recalled, is close to where Jameson had been captured in 1/96 during his "Raid". Doubtless, the lads of the Gordons and the CIV were made well aware of the anniversary.
L/Cpl. Ernest Lovell Simmonds' head wound was indeed dreadful.
He did his duty and was proud of it.
More on him: - In May 1901 he married Catherine Drew, a widow 20 years older than he was, at Kington, Herefordshire. The Leominster News reported that he died of consumption, and "in May last he married Mrs Drew at the Talbot Hotel and went to reside in a private residence at Lyonshall, and seemed to get the better of his wounds, but unfortunately never recovered from the effects of a serious illness at Bloemfontein."
Lyonshall is a small village three miles east of Kington
Simmonds, after being posted to the 1st Battalion, served in South Africa from the 18th of February 1900 until the 4th of October that same year, a serving Volunteer in the Gordon Highlander's, he had joined the Colours at Aberdeen on the 15th of January, giving his parents William and Emma Simmonds of High Street Towcaster as his next of kin, after his return from South Africa, he was discharged from Netley upon the 20th of November 1900.