This is the story of two Sheffield men from very different social backgrounds, who both volunteered in early September 1914 and joined the new Pals battalion (12th Bn York and Lancaster Regt).
One of these men was Vivian Simpson, a 31 year old solicitor who was well known in the city; partly because he was an outstanding footballer, playing for Sheffield Wednesday and an England trialist. Simpson was the very first man to enrol for the new battalion and was commissioned in January 1915.
The other man was Reg Glenn, a clerk in the Education Offices who served as a signaller in each battle the 12th Battalion fought in until the summer of 1917, when he was selected to become an officer.
To his annoyance, Vivian Simpson was kept back in England as a training officer until after the battalion’s disaster on the Somme on 1 July 1916. However, after that he became a most energetic and courageous officer. He was awarded an MC in 1917, but was killed in the German offensive on the Lys in April 1918.
Reg Glenn went back to France in 1918 as a subaltern in the North Staffordshires and was wounded on the Aisne in his first day of combat as an officer. He was never fit enough to go back to the trenches and became a training officer in Northumberland with his new regiment and later with the Cameronians at Invergordon. He survived the war and lived to be 101 years old, making him the last survivor of the 12th Battalion.