413050 Private John Humphreys enlisted on the 24 March 1915 at Lindsay, Ontario and was to serve in the 39th and 18th Battalions. He said he was an Anglican, single and a concrete finisher by trade. He indicated that he was born on the 24 March 1887 (local records say 1 February 1887), and he was reported to be 5′ 7″ tall and with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. His file shows he had a brother, B Humphreys, living in Toronto, but he named his mother, Mrs Jane Humphreys, Layde, Cushendall, as his next of kin.
Duncan Humphreys, a farmer of Layde, Cushendall, had married Jane McLarty sic (or McClarty), also of Layde in Cushendall Parish Church on the 22 December 1884. The 1901 census records them living at Layde. John & Mary McClarty (90) appear to be the householders, and Duncan (41) and Jane (41) shared the property with them. The latter couple listed their children present on the day of the census: John (14 – born 1 February 1887), Bernard (12 – born 14 April 1889), James (10 – born 21 January 1891), Lizzie (8 born 22 August 1893), Denis (5 – born 16 July 1896) and Frederick (1 – born 3 January 1900). The family do not appear to be listed in the 1911 Irish census return, though Elizabeth may have been working for the Dobbs family.
John Humphreys left Canada on the 17 June 1915 aboard the SS Missanabie and went to Shorncliffe Camp. He was in the Central Military Hospital, Shorncliffe from 7 September 1915 and underwent surgery for appendicitis. Thereafter he was cared for by the Charing VAD until his release to light duties. He went to France after the 20 January 1916 and wasn’t with his unit, ‘C’ Company, 18th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, until the 4 February 1916. He was killed in action about four months later on the 13th May 1916. The Circumstances of Death Register says, ‘He was with two comrades sitting in the bay of a trench in front of St Eloi, about one am on May 13th, 1916, when a shell burst amongst them instantly killing Private Humphreys and one other.’
His death came shortly after that of his brother Denis. 1478 Rifleman Denis Humphreys, 8th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 24th March 1916.