Next of kin plaque : Private George Simmons, 35th Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL51260
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze; Cardboard
Maker Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1922-1923
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Bronze next of kin plaque, showing on the obverse, Britannia holding a laurel wreath, the British lion, dolphins, a spray of oak leaves and the words 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR' around the edge. Beneath the main figures, the British lion defeats the German eagle. The initials 'ECP', for the designer Edward Carter Preston appear above the lion's right forepaw. A raised rectangle above the lion's head bears the name 'GEORGE SIMMONS'.

History / Summary

Born in Captain's flat, New South Wales, George Simmons was living at Branxton in the Hunter Valley and working as a railway fireman when he enlisted in the AIF on 4 September 1916, aged 31. After initial training he was posted a private, service number 2661, to the 5th Reinforcements for 35th Battalion. The unit sailed for overseas service from Sydney on 25 October, aboard HMAT A11 Ascanius, and arrived in England at the end of December.

After further training in England Simmons joined his battalion on 9 April 1917, where he was appointed orderly (batman) to Captain Henry Cadell, the officer commanding A Company. Simmons survived the battle of Messines in Belgium in June but was killed at Passchendaele on 12 September. Heavy rain had made the battlefield a quagmire; the thick mud slowed the advancing men and fouled their weapons. Only 90 of the battalion's men survived unwounded. A survivor from the battalion wrote: 'George was his [Cadell's] orderly and was attached to Company Headquarters. Captain Cadell was killed about 10 a.m., being riddled with machine gun bullets. Whether your husband was killed then or not I cannot say as I lost sight of him in the confusion of the battle'. Neither man's body was recovered for burial after the battle. Their names are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

This commemorative plaque was sent to Simmons' widow, Nellie, in April 1924.