b. 25/07/1916 St Pancras, London. d. 30/12/1944 Mogadishu, Somaliland.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/12/1944 Mogadishu, Somaliland.
Simmon Latutin (1916-1944) was born on 25th July 1916 in St Pancras, London, the only child of Morris and Freda Latutin (nee Krafchig). Morris, who hailed from Latvia, and name was spelt with a V, emigrated to England. In London, he married Freda, who came from Poland. Simmon grew up in London attending the London Polytechnic from where he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. He played the violin and later viola and by 1936 was a member of the London Symphony Orchestra. In March 1940 he married Margaret Jacob whom he met at the Royal College. The couple would have two daughters, Anne and Elisabeth.
Simmon became a member of the Pioneer Corps and was commissioned as Cadet Simmon Latutin No 242974, 2nd Lieutenant, Somerset Light Infantry on 21st August 1942. He served in Northern Ireland before being posted to East Africa where he commanded the Infantry Training School of Swahili troops from Kenya and taught infantry work to the Somaliland troops.
On 29th December 1944 in Mogadishu, Somaliland, Latutin, an officer, an NCO and a personal boy were in the training school store selecting fireworks for New Year when a fire broke out and almost simultaneously a great number of rockets began to explode and burn - there were some 170 cases of them in the store. With the force of the explosion and the fire, the store rapidly became an inferno. Latutin, regardless of the detonating rockets, the intense heat and the choking clouds of smoke, plunged into the flames and succeeded in dragging out the officer, who was almost unconscious owing to his injuries. By this time, Latutin was himself alight, but without an instant's hesitation he again rushed back into the flames and rescued the NCO. He was about to go in again for the boy when others restrained him. He sadly died of his severe injuries the following day.
Sadly, it took four or five days for his pregnant wife, Margaret, to be informed of his death. He was initially buried in Mogadishu, but later moved to Nairobi War Cemetery without the knowledge of his widow. Simmon Latutin was awarded a posthumous George Cross on 10th September 1946, and the medal was presented to his widow at Buckingham Palace by King George VI. His GC, Defence Medal 1939-45, and War Medal 1939-45 are now owned and displayed by the Somerset Light Infantry Museum, Taunton Castle, Somerset. In 2006, a memorial was unveiled to Simmon Latutin GC at the Royal College of Music, where he is also on the Roll of Honour.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOMERSET MILITARY MUSEUM, TAUNTON, SOMERSET.
BURIAL PLACE: NAIROBI WAR CEMETERY, NAIROBI, KENYA.
British War Graves Project kindly provided this photograph. (Mick McCann).