Simonds, John Mellor

He was one of the twin sons of the Right Hon. Lord Simonds of Sparsholt PC, DLitt. (Coll.1894-1900, Fellow 1933-1946, Warden 1946-1951), who was made Lord Chancellor in October 1951. Lady Simonds was born Mary Hope Mellor, the daughter of Judge F.H. Mellor KC and the family home was The Deane House, Sparsholt, Winchester.

His twin brother Gavin Alexander Simonds (K1928-34) died in 1951 as a result of illness contracted on active service during the Second World War. Because their elder brother Robert Francis Simonds had died in infancy, the Viscounty became extinct when their father died in in 1971.

The Simonds twins came from Horris Hill to Morshead’s and Beloe’s in September 1928.  Whilst at Winchester John Simonds played for Princes, representing the school at rackets at Queens in 1934. He also edited The Wykehamist. He was a Senior Prefect in his last year.  From school he went on in 1934 to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Union in 1937.    He took his BA in 1938 and was called to the Bar in the Inner Temple in 1939.

On the outbreak of war he was commissioned in the North Staffordshire Regiment and became a Captain in July 1942. He volunteered for airborne duties and was part of 1st Airborne Division from its formation, being attached to 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment (2 South Staffords) in 1 Airlanding Brigade. During the invasion of Sicily on July 9th 1943 he was rescued from the sea, after his glider was dropped short of the land.

On August 12th 1944 Simonds married Ada Barbara Willcock MB, the widow of Flying Officer Anthony John Willcock, and daughter of T. Robinson of Greenfield Mount, St. Helen’s, Lancashire. Willcock had been killed whilst flying with 169 Squadron RAF over occupied France on August 6th 1943; he was flying a tactical reconnaissance Mustang aircraft on an operational sortie. The notice of Simonds’ engagement only appeared in The Times on August 15th 1944 – some three days after the wedding, which took place at New Hincksey, Oxford.

In September 1944, Simonds, now a Major, accompanied his battalion to Arnhem as Second-in-Command and OC HQ Company. He was not the only Wykehamist attached to the battalion; also with 2 South Staffords was Captain Roderick George Alastair Gow (Coll.1933-1938), of 1 (Airborne) Forward Observation Unit, RA, who was killed in action in the fighting on September 19th 1944 (see individual entry), the same day that Simonds was wounded.  The battalion’s official report states for 23rd September that “Major J M Simonds was killed on this day”.

2nd South Staffords were given orders to march to Oosterbeek, where they were met by cheering Dutch handing out fruit and drinks.    Given that Simonds played no active role in the defence of Oosterbeek, it is most likely that he was out of action from the 19th, was removed to a casualty station at Oosterbeek, and was killed there on 23rd by enemy shelling.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 5 of the Groesbeek Memorial.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Simonds
  • Forenames or initials: The Hon. John Mellor
  • House: E
  • Years in School: 1928-1934
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: North Staffordshire Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 1st August 1915
  • Date of Death: 25th September 1944
  • How Died: Died of Wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner F2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on the Groesbeek Memorial, Panel 5