William Simpson’s uncle Walter Simpson died in World War II when he was 19; and William’s son, Angus, died of cancer when he was just two years old.
One of them was the uncle he never knew. The other, the little boy who was taken from him by a rare disease he was born with
Now Mr Simpson will make a pilgrimage to Hranice, where his uncle’s plane crashed, to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Group (CCLG).
Mr Simpson from Linlithgow and his friend Andrew Balfour travel to the Czech Republic on Monday (26 June) in a special tartan car gifted to them by Inverness sponsor Dicksons.
Upon their return, the car will be auctioned and all funds raised will go to CCLG.
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Mr Simpson said: “My oldest friend Andy Balfour, who will be my co-pilot and navigator. This is an essential role as since being diagnosed with ME/CFS in 2019 I would not have been able to complete such an endeavor without help.
“Walter Simpson joined the RAF as an air gunner in 1943 aged just 17 and after training joined Bomber Command. Unfortunately, in March 1945, his plane was lost while operating from Scampton Airfield and crashed near Hranice in what was then Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic or Czechia. All on board perished.
“Walter was my uncle and my father’s eldest brother. My father and I visited the Commonwealth Cemetery in Prague together in 2002. Although I never knew Walter, he was always a powerful presence in my life and the lives of the entire family. It is a symbol of bravery and unimaginable sacrifice that is repeated so often in this country and around the world.”
“In 2005 I became a father. We welcomed a beautiful son named Angus Adam Simpson into our family. But soon our life was thrown off balance when he was diagnosed with cancer, an alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
“Angus was as brave and strong as any soldier while fighting for his life, never wavering, always great and smiling, right up to his final moments here with us in 2007.”
(L-R) Fraser Bryce, William Simpson and Andy Balfour.
Mr Simpson said it had been a longstanding goal of his to travel to some of the historical sites linked to World War II in Europe, culminating in the site of the Hranice plane crash.
“I arranged for a portion of the wreckage of the plane (confirmed by local sources) to be collected and returned to the Bomber Command Memorial Spire in Lincoln for a memorial to Walter and so many young people who tragically lost their lives. to be buried.
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“It seemed like a worthy tribute to him and his comrades. I decided that while I honor the loss of this part of my family, I could raise funds for CCLG’s childhood cancer research and honor the tremendous loss of the other warrior in our family, Angus.
“Two boys, two generations apart: one family. We bear this loss and cherish the memories.”
Fraser Bryce, Managing Director of Dicksons of Inverness said: “It is such a tragic yet heartwarming story and we were delighted to support William and Andy on their pilgrimage and donate the car to this wonderful charity.”
Mr. Simpson has set up a Just Giving page to raise funds for CCLG. Angus’s Door is run by the charity and details can be found at justgiving.com.