Rifleman R/1994 Thomas Humphreys

Killed in Action on Sunday, 3rd September 1916, age unknown.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 13 A and 13 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

11th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 59th Brigade of 20th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: West Bromwich, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 21st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Peter's, Greets Green Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/794316/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
39 Sheepwash Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
James Humphreys (28, Forge Labourer, born Dudley), his wife Jane (26, born West Bromwich), and their child: Hannah (4, born West Bromwich).

1901 Census
29 Moor Lane, Widnes, Lancashire.
James Humphreys (38, Bridge and Girder Plater, born Brockmoor), his wife Jane (37, born Great Bridge), and their 3 children: Sidney (9, born Great Bridge), Thomas (7, born Great Bridge), and John (4, born Hill Top).

1911 Census
109 Great Bridge Road, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Living with their cousin William Bellingham were:
Thomas Humphreys (17, Rivet Knocker-Up, born West Bromwich), and John Humphreys (15, Rivet Heater, born West Bromwich).
Their brother Sydney Humphreys (19, Stoker, born West Bromwich) was a Boarder at 25 Charles Street, West Bromwich.

Personal Data

Thomas, Sydney and John Humphreys, three brothers, were tragically killed in the Great War in a 5-week period from July to September 1916. At the time of their births the family lived in Sheepwash Lane, Great Bridge, but almost certainly on the West Bromwich side. Thomas is included in this Tipton list of the fallen because 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows him as being born in Tipton. Sydney and John have no indication of a Tipton connection.

Thomas Humphreys joined the 11th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps as Private R/1994; his number was very close to John's (R/1990) suggesting they enlisted together in West Bromwich. 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows him as born in Tipton.

Thomas, along with his brother John, landed France on 21st July 1915 as part of the 20th (Light) Division, and was killed on the 3rd September 1916. Thomas was the third Humphreys brother to be killed in a 5-week period.

For completeness, brief details of Thomas's two brothers follow.

Sydney Humphreys joined the 3rd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps as Private Y/610 on 30th August 1914. He landed in France on 24th March 1915 and then in Salonika on 5th Dec 1915 as part of 27th Division. He died of Malignant Malaria on board Hospital Ship Formosa on 29th July 1916, and was buried at sea. He is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial in Salonika. He is believed to have been born in West Bromwich.

John Humphreys joined the 11th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps as Private R/1990, his number very close to Thomas (R/1994) suggesting they enlisted together in West Bromwich. He landed France on 21st July 1915, and was killed on the 24th August 1916, most likely near Guillemont. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was born Hill Top, West Bromwich.

Action resulting in his death

On the 3rd September, 20th Division was set the task of taking the village of Guillemont, with Zero Hour at noon. 59th Brigade of 20th Division, including Thomas's 11th King's Royal Rifles, attacked the southern end of Guillemont. They successfully reached objective, the Hardecourt - Ginchy Road to the east of Guillemont, in 20 minutes. It seemed that German resistance in this area had crumbled and 700 prisoners were taken. The King's Royal Rifles mopped up here and dug in, as the neighbouring Divisions to the north at Ginchy and to the south at Falfemont Farm had not been so successful.

Just before nightfall a German aircraft flew over the lines, and shortly afterwards an accurate German bombardment hit the newly captured British lines

During the day, 33 men of the 11th King's Royal Rifle Corps were killed, including Thomas Humphreys. Thomas has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It is likely that his brother John had also been killed near Guillemont just 10 days earlier on the 24th August, as on this day the Germans bombarded the 20th Division positions.

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