Robert Probert Simmons: 1898-1919

Friday 30 Sep 2016

After many years of campaigning by Framlingham resident, Evelyn Empson, a headstone was erected earlier this year in Framlingham Cemetery to mark the final resting place of Private Robert Probert Simmons.

Robert, who was born in 1898, was employed as a waiter at Framlingham College before he signed up in 1915 with the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and served in France in The Suffolk Regiment during World War I. He was injured and taken prisoner in March 1918 and suffered as Prisoner of War (POW) until he returned home in December 1918. Tragically he died in Ipswich Hospital in 1919 aged 21 of his injuries and the treatment he received as a POW.

Until earlier this year Robert’s final resting place, although as a result of wartime service, had not been formally recognised with a headstone and through the co-operation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and generosity of a benefactor a headstone similar to the design of a military headstone was cut in Arras, France and transported to Framlingham Cemetery.

To mark this important occasion a short service of dedication and remembrance took place at Robert’s graveside in Framlingham Cemetery on Wednesday 21st September 2016. The service was conducted by Rev Brynn Bayman, Framlingham College Chaplain, and a wreath was laid by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Myers-Allen, CO of the College CCF, with Jack Gionis a College student playing the bugle. The Guard of Honour formed of Tom Monaghan, Will Brett, Bertie Southworth, Brandon Langridge and Coral Langridge added to the military significance of the event and were smartly drilled by SSI Roy Witham. Local dignitaries attended along with Paul Taylor, the Headmaster, Chris Essex President of the Society of Old Framlinghamians, Jane Easey OF Co-ordinator and Andrew Payn, Operations Director. It proved to be a most moving service, made more poignant as it was exactly 100 years to the day that Robert left the UK for France and his service in the Armed Forces.

A plaque is displayed in the College Chapel remembering Robert Simmons as a College employee who made the ultimate sacrifice. In his sermon the Rev Bayman announced that it was exactly 100 years on 22nd September since Robert left Framlingham for the trenches. Headmaster Paul Taylor said ‘the College is honoured to have been able to support Evelyn’s admirable campaign to secure proper recognition for the sacrifice of a former member of the College community’.

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