Thomas Ernest Sims
Thomas Ernest Sims, known as Tom but perhaps later in life as Ernie, was born on 11 February 1883 in Discove, Bruton, Somerset, to Henry Sims and Edith Elizabeth née Wright. His parents had married in Frampton in 1878 and Henry's work, variously a coachman and a groom, took them to Painswick as well. They were living there when Henry died in 1885; Edith had him buried at Frampton where she returned to live with their children and among her family. She married George Hewlett on 6 May 1889 at St Mary de Lode, Gloucester, and by 1891 Tom's home was on the village green, close to the Three Horseshoes. In 1901 he was working as a groom, and on 30 April 1910 he married Mary Elizabeth Hammond at St James, Cheltenham. Tom and Mary were living in Vicarage Lane with their daughter, Phyllis Beatrix Annie, in the spring of 1911. More children followed in quick succession: Eric Reginald, Henry John Hammond and Rita Delia.
Tom had already served for nearly four years in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry when he enlisted for the First World War at the Colston Hall, Bristol, on 3 September 1914, signing as 'E Thomas Sims'. The Sims family had been living on the edge of the Badminton Estate at Tresham. Tom was temporarily posted to 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars and a day later he was posted to the 12th Reserve Cavalry Regiment. By 19 September he was en route to join the Expeditionary Force in France where he would remain until well after the war ended. In the spring of 1915 Tom was posted to the 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars and on 23 March 1916 he was appointed acting lance corporal. At some stage Tom appears to have spent time in No. 5 Base Hospital at Rouen as his name, number and this address was written in Thomas Henry Griffin's war diary.
The following year Tom volunteered in response to an Army offer to transfer to the Remount Branch of the Army Service Corps. This organisation was responsible for providing horses and mules to all other Army units. Composed generally of older and more experienced soldiers, it obtained animals by compulsory purchase in the UK, and by purchasing from North and South America, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, India and even China. A Remount Squadron would have been responsible for preparing and training some 500 horses. Although, when transferring to the Remount service at Rouen on 12 June 1917, he had to revert to his permanent rank of private, Tom quickly progressed to acting corporal on 8 September, and to substantive corporal (and foreman) on 9 December. He was promoted to acting sergeant in February 1919, and shortly afterwards had the only blot on his record when he was apparently absent from his unit from 21 February until being 'apprehended' on the 25th. However, as he was only reprimanded (and lost four days' pay) it seems likely that there had been some sort of misunderstanding. He returned to the UK and was demobilised on 31 May 1919. He was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
His service papers record his name as Ernest Thomas Sims, and the plaque in the village hall has ET Sims. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a Sergeant Tom Sims assisted with the unveiling of the war memorial in 1920, and this seems to be the same man. The family grew further after the war following the births of Vera Evelyn, Brenda Mary, Bernard Thomas, Stella Edith and Barbara Jean. Tom was variously a groom, stoker and labourer during the 1920s. In 1939 he was a coal hoist labourer and the family were living at Florence Cottage, The Street (now demolished, but then to the north of Wild Goose Cottage). Thomas Ernest Sims was buried in St Mary's churchyard on 8 January 1960.