AN avid historian is searching for the relatives or descendants of a lost Anzac from the Torrington region, to hand back a “little piece of history”.
Rita Young, who grew up in Torrington, stumbled across a letter Fred Simpson had written to his mother. He ended the letter with a post script, addressed his neighbour Ms Spinks – who is Mrs Young’s grandmother.
“Fred’s mother must have given the letter to my grandmother to read, and she held on to it,” Mrs Young said.
“After she passed we found it in her bible amongst the war letters from my grandfather, who was also a soldier.”
The letter, sent in 1917, describes Mr Simpson’s life in France, and the post script jokingly urges his neighbour to come over and help the war effort.
Mrs Young authored the book Recollections of the Torrington Anzac’s and Family Memoirs and handed many of her letters over to the New England District Museum in Armidale, but said she couldn’t give away Mr Simpson’s letter.
“It’s not mine to give,” she said.
“I thought there might be a descendant that would like to have it, given it’s been 101 years since it was sent.
“Someone might still be living in the area. These days younger people are very interested in the Anzac tradition and someone might be looking for Fred’s background and the military service he gave.”
Little is known about Mr Simpson – he’s believed to be born in Inverell and listed on the Torrington war memorial as ‘F. Simpson’.
“It would appear that Fred was working as a miner in Tungsten,” Mrs Young said.
“He joined up in Inverell and went to war, but I can’t find any records of him being wounded.
“He was most likely part of the 33rd Battalion, as many from the region were – they called the battalion ‘New England’s Own’.
“His letter describing his life over there as it was transpiring, a typical letter one would write to his mother when many miles away.”
It would also appear Mr Simpson was keen on Mrs Young’s aunt Eunice, sending her embroidered postcards with a “slightly romantic flavour to them”.
“They could have possibly been childhood sweethearts, but they never married,” Mrs Young said.
If you believe you’re a relative of Fred Simpson, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.