3/445 Major John Cormack Simpson - New Zealand Medical Corp 

John Cormack Simpson was born in Wick, Scotland on 11th July 1885 the second son of David Ritchie and Mary (nee Cormack) Simpson. John’s father is listed as his next of kin on his enlistment in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force
in 1914.[i]

John entered medicine and in 1912 was working as a doctor in the District Asylum, Inverness when he was appointed as
an assistant medical officer under the Mental Hospitals Department of New Zealand. Dr Simpson left from London on
11th November 1913 on the SS Iconic bound for Wellington. Dr Simpson joined the staff of the Porirua Mental Hospital under the superintendant Dr A C McKillop.[ii]  Dr McKillop had also worked in the District Asylum, Inverness until 1911 when he was appointed as a Senior Medical Officer, Mental Hospitals Department, New Zealand.

Dr Simpson as a single man did not live at the Hospital but in Johnsonville a village close to Porirua. John did play for the Porirua Hospital Soccer team (Associated Football). There were a large number of young single English and Scottish men working at the hospital who made up the bulk of the team.

The declaration of war resulted in many of the staff from the hospital enlisting to serve in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and because of their  employment the majority were recruited into the New Zealand Medical Corp.
Doctor Simpson on 20th October 1914 became 3/445 Captain John Cormack Simpson 2nd Reinforcements, New Zealand Medical Corps. The 2nd Reinforcements left New Zealand on the 14th December 1914 bound for Egypt. There were nine men from the hospital serving in the ranks of 2nd Reinforcements, Medical Corps[iii]  under the command of Major McKillop and Captain Simpson.

Captain Simpson’s military files are brief but he did serve at Gallipoli possibly landing on the first day. Captain Simpson
was also involved in the movement of casualties, by hospital ships, from ANZAC Cove to hospitals in Malta, an item in the Wellington Evening Post transcribed a May letter written from Malta by a New Zealand Army Nurse:[iv]

‘Happy Meeting.
As soon as I got ashore, an untidy, bedraggled looking man in khaki rushed across the road and greeted me.
He turned out to be Dr Simpson, a Scotch boy who was at Porirua, and once came into hospital (Wellington)
with typhoid. He bought over his dilapidated pal, a bundle of cheerful rags, who turned out to be Dr Trotter,
from the South. They had returned two days ago with a hospital ship of wounded soldiers and how they had
to work! They have scarcely any garments but what they stand up in but are perfectly happy. We were more
than pleased to see them. They are both Captains but wear no badges, and look like two dirty soldiers boys
straight from the trenches. We spent a long time hearing of all our friends at the front, and of the nerve and
bravery of our dear boys. We stopped every boy we met in Malta with New Zealand on him, as all they are
permitted to draw in hospital is 2s per week. One of our nurses heard her brother was wounded before she
left New Zealand, and had not been able to hear anything of him since. The first boy I spoke to happened to
be named Bennett so I asked him if he had a sister who was a nurse, and he turned out to be the missing
brother.  You should have seen the meeting. He had no idea the New Zealand nurses were here...’ 

At the end of the Gallipoli campaign Captain Simpson was attached as a Medical Officer (MO) to the 1st Field Ambulance and following the move of New Zealand units, in March 1916, to France to the 3rd NZ Field Ambulance. Captain Simpson remained in France with the 3rd NZ Field Ambulance until August 1917 when he was moved to England to become the
MO at the No 1 NZ General Hospital based at Brockenhurst. On 22nd July 1918 Captain Simpson became Major Simpson the rank he would hold until he was discharged from the NZEF on 4th March 1919. The final note on Major Simpson’s military record being:

‘Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with the war.’[v]

Dr John Cormack Simpson elected to discharge in England and returned to Scotland.  John married Elizabeth Ogilvie Birnrnie and lived a long life dying on 21st January 1961 in Inverness, Scotland.  

Paperspast online
UK BDM Free online
Archway Archives New Zealand - Military Files: 3/445 Captain John Cormack Simpson

Brochenhurst Hotel - postcard Quirk collection ​

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand, Military Files: 3/445 Captain John Cormack Simpson
[ii] Alexander Cameron McKillop Superintendant Porirua Mental Hospital and 3/43 Major AC McKillop NZMC.
[iii] Hospital Men: 3/43 Major McKillop*, 3/445 Captain Simpson*, Sergeants 3/400 Foster* & 3/401 Foster*, Corporal 3/442 Roots*, Privates 3/383 Alexander*,  3/411 Heath*, 3/426 Munro,  3/445 Topham, 3/460 Walsh*. (Hospital AFC members)  
[iv] Evening Post, 13 August 1915: Happy Meeting. Happy Meeting: Evening Post 13 August 1915.
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 3/445 Captain John Cormack Simpson ​