He was the second son of Tobias Simonds and his fourth wife. His brother was the Chief Elder, Thomas Simonds. Simonds hoped to become Chief Elder when his brother had died. Simonds was very jealous of his older brother for a whole host of reasons, ranging from Thomas being born first to his number of wives. (HH2)
Simonds was in politics since 1873 PD.
In 1903 PD, Matthew Simonds held the rank of Sword of the Faithful as Masada's Chief of Naval Operations during the war against the Protectorate of Grayson. His flagship was the battlecruiser MNS Thunder of God, actually the re-christened PNS Saladin, captained by Alfredo Yu.
Intensely religious like all Masadans, Simonds regarded Yu and his Havenite officers and crew as "infidels", yet he was willing to use them to achieve Masada's ends, even as he resented their superior technology, especially their Prolong Treatments. Simonds also fought to reconcile his low opinion of Yu and his men, dictated by his religious beliefs, with the painful reality that Masada was dependent on Haven's technology and greater expertise in naval warfare for the conflict with Grayson. Both Simonds and his elder brother Thomas were certain that if Masada succeeded in conquering Grayson - a process that would include attacking and destroying Royal Manticoran Navy ships - it would then have to face retaliation from the Star Kingdom of Manticore, which even the most die-hard conservatives among Masada's government did not believe could be fought off without outside help.
Unfortunately, Simonds' bigotry and need to assert his and his Navy's "superiority" often overrode his common sense and prevented him from using the full potential of the Havenite ships available to him. During the First Battle of Yeltsin's Star, Simonds was at the CIC of Thunder of God, monitoring the battle from afar, when he would have much preferred to be on the bridge of the Masadan Navy's own flagship, the MNS Abraham, leading the attack. After a sneak attack by Thunder of God crippled the Manticoran destroyer HMS Madrigal, Captain Yu earnestly suggested that the Masadan fleet bypass Madrigal and pursue the remaining Grayson ships. Simonds, perceiving an insult to his ships' capabilities, refused to give that order to Admiral Ernst Franks, who recommended focusing all Masadan ships on attacking Madrigal. When Yu respectfully disagreed, SImonds lost his temper and screamed abuse at Yu - who turned out to be right: though crippled, Madrigal's weaponry and defenses were still sufficient to inflict terrible damage on the Masadan ships, before being overwhelmed (Admiral Franks was so galled by this outcome that during the later Battle of Blackbird, he refused to acknowledge Captain Thomas Theisman's similar advice to avoid a direct confrontation with the remaining Manticoran squadron, with fatal results for himself and his ships).
After the First Battle of Yeltsin's Star, Simonds was badly shaken by his fleet's treatment by the Manticorans. Attending a meeting of the Masadan ruling council at his brother's home, he endorsed the decision to rely on Maccabeus as the next part of Operation Jericho, hoping that a political coup d'etat on Grayson would allow them to take the planet without further military action.
Not only did Maccabeus fail, but his capture revealed the presence of Masada's secret base in the Yeltsin system, Blackbird, which was captured by a task force led by Captain Honor Harrington. Again, Simonds unwittingly contributed to the Manticorans' success: during earlier operations against Grayson, he had insisted that Thunder's Tractor beams be used to tow Masadan LACs as additional support craft. Thunder was forced to stop for repairs, which Simonds further delayed by fits and starts. As a result, Thunder was delayed in returning to Blackbird and so was unable to prevent its fall.
Like most of the Council, Simonds believed that all was lost after Blackbird fell and a transmission was intercepted, revealing that Captain Yu was being ordered to withdraw Thunder from the system. Instead, Senior Elder Huggins spoke up, saying it was obviously God's will that the Faithful should seize Thunder for their own and complete the conquest of Grayson. Stirred by these words - even knowing that Huggins had effectively replaced him as next in line for his brother's position as Chief Elder - Simonds enthusiastically agreed to eliminate the Havenite complement of Thunder's crew and lead the attack on Grayson.
Under the pretext of ferrying reinforcements of Marines to Masada's asteroid bases aboard Thunder of God, Simonds took over the ship, though the ship was crippled for several hours by a computer security lockout, which allowed Captain Yu and a portion of his Havenite crew to escape to Grayson space unharmed.
Sword Simonds ordered the Thunder to Grayson, where the ship confronted Fearless and HMS Troubadour in the Second Battle of Yeltsin's Star. In spite of his ship's much heaver armament and armor, Simonds and his crew's unfamiliarity with Thunder's capabilities led to several clumsy mistakes. Simonds broke off the initial clash when the Manticoran ships scored a higher hit ratio in their first missile duel, not realizing until afterward how much damage Thunder was capable of absorbing.
His final mistake occurred during the third and last engagement with Fearless, when reinforcements from the Royal Manticoran Navy fired a missile salvo from extreme range. Though the missiles were fired from too far away to do significant damage, Simonds panicked and ordered Thunder turned away from the new threat, inadvertently exposing his ship's bow to close-range broadside fire from Fearless. His last thought was that he had failed his God, before Thunder was utterly destroyed, killing him and his entire crew. (HH2)
Service Record Edit
- Sword of the Faithful