Travelled from Brisbane to Plymouth, England on HMAT A46 Clan Macgillivray
Thursday, 7 September 1916 - Thursday, 2 November 1916
Travelled from Rollestone, England to Etaples, France
Monday, 22 January 1917 - Tuesday, 23 January 1917
TOS 26Bn from re-enforcements
Monday, 5 February 1917
Promoted to Lieutenant
Monday, 19 March 1917
Killed in action at Lagnicourt, France
Monday, 26 March 1917
No events have yet been recorded
Stories and comments
Thomas S Humphrys from Cooktown
Posted by KeithMcPhee, Sunday, 16 October 2016
Thomas Sydney Humphrys was born at Cooktown in Queensland, on the 13th of February 1891, the elder son of William Humphrys.
Thomas Humphrys first enlisted on the 30th of September 1915 then re-attested on the 4th of August 1916 at Enoggera near Brisbane, Queensland saying that he would serve in the AIF from that date. He stated his age was 25 years and five months, his occupation was as a clerk with the Engineers Branch of the Queensland Railways, and his next of kin was his father, Mr William Robert Humphrys of Cooktown.
On the 2nd of November 1915 he was assigned to the No 2 Depot Battalion ranked as a Private. At the No 12 School of Instruction he was ranked as an Acting Sergeant then on the 7th of March 1916 at the 11th Depot Battalion at Enoggera near Brisbane he was promoted to the rank of Acting Company sergeant Major. On the 12th of February 1916 he made “Application for a Commission in the AIF”, being recommended on the 3rd of March. Still at the 11th Depot Battalion he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant on the 24th of March 1916 and the next day he was assigned to the 26th Battalion/15 Re-enforcements at that rank.
On the 7th of September 1916 he embarked at Brisbane on the HMAT A46 Clan Macgillivray bound for active service, disembarking in Plymouth, England on the 2nd of November 1916. On the 21st of November 1916 he joined the 7th Training Battalion at Rollestone, Wiltshire from the overseas re-enforcements.
On the 22nd of January 1917 he left England and the next day was in Etaples, France. On the 5th of February 1917 he was taken on strength by the 26th Battalion from the re-enforcements. On the 19th of March 1917 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
From early March 1917 the Germans, with the Allies in pursuit, staged a fighting withdrawal from their winter defence lines to the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line. Before any attack on the Hindenburg Line itself could be under-taken, a number of fortified villages to the west of the Line had to be captured. One of these was the French village of Lagnicourt and the AIF’s 26th Battalion was given the task of capturing it on the morning of the 26th of March 1917. The Battalion attacked directly into the village of Lagnicourt and, after temporarily being slowed up by solid enemy residence, the village was cleared of German soldiers. To hold up any potential German counter-attack, a line of advance posts were set up fronting the captured enemy lines.
On the 26th of March 1917 he was reported as missing, believed to be a Prisoner of War held by the Germans.
Witness reports, although conflicting, were taken about the capture of Lieutenant Humphrys and others on the 26th of March 1917. Between 7am and 9am men from the 26th Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Humphrys were at Lagnicourt, France having just taken the village and progressed about three-quarters of a mile through the village where the men dug themselves in and set up at least three advanced posts. The No 2 (central) post, which was more advanced than others, was occupied by men from Lieutenant Humphrys’s A Company, all of them machine (Lewis) gunners. The Germans made three determined counter-attacks which were beaten off, except for an isolated part on the right flank where the enemy worked round them and, as the machine gun got blocked and the stock was blown off, they were by surrounded by German troops who out-numbered the Australians by “10 to 1”. It was a wet, muddy, sleety day and they could not use their rifles. Men from the No 3 post went to their aid but, upon mounting a small ridge that gave view of No 2 post, they could see that the men in No 2 post were surrounded and had no chance of avoiding capture. The men from No 2 post were seen going over to the enemy with their hands up and were marched away.
However another witness believed that, at about 10am on the 26th of March, Lieutenant Humphrys was shot through the head by a machine gun bullet and was killed instantly. Another witness said that, although initially Lieut Humphrys was posted as missing, men from the 9th Battalion found his body and handed his disc and belongings into the 26th Battalion HQ.
The men taken prisoner at this time were Lieutenant T S Humphrys, Lance Sergeant A McMurtrie (4468), Corporal R Ronaldson (1701), Corporal T Browne (4099), Private E J Skerritt (555), Private J A Lang (3084), Private W H Wood (3157) and Private R F Galbraith (3491). Cpl Browne, Cpl Ronaldson and Private Skerritt were all later determined to have been killed in action on this day.
Lieutenant Thomas Humphrys was later determined to have been killed in action on the 26th of March 1917 at Lagnicourt, France. He has no known grave and is commemorated at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France.
AWM and NAA records by Gary Parsons researcher 26th Bn.
Posted by blackboycreek, Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Roll of Honour
Thomas Sydney Humphrys
26th Australian Infantry Battalion
Australian Imperial Force
First World War, 1914-1918
Conflict Eligibility Date
First World War, 1914-1921
Date of Death
26 March 1917
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Killed in action
Age at Death
Place of Association
Cooktown, Cape York, Queensland, Australia
Cemetery or Memorial Details
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army
AWM and NAA records by Gary Parsons researcher 26th Bn.
Posted by blackboycreek, Tuesday, 3 December 2019
(Red Cross –
Pte Leonard Edward Jarvis 549 C Coy 26th Bn – He was taken prisoner of war with about 15 others and 2 mchine guns in trhe morning about 9 a.m. He was not wounded. This was told us officially. He was A Coy.
L/Cpl Alpha Hunter 4810 XV Plt D Coy 26th Bn. – I heard that 2nd Lieut Humphries was seen to throw up his hands in a German counter attack at Lagnicourt on March 26th. He was in charge of the machine guns that day and we heard that the guns got jammed, two guns, two gun team crews and Lieut Humphrys were captured together. Sgt Smith (26.D.XIII) was sent out to the right of the Coy, close to where Lieut Humphrys was, he could confirm this. There were three counter attacks, this was the second one, but they were unsuccessful except for taking these prisoners.
Pte Richard Francis Clarke 1664A 26th Bn (D.C.M.) - 2nd Lieut Humphrys was in my Coy A. In march, but I cannot give the date, we were out in posts at Lagnicourt. Calling the post I was in No. 1 and the three next to my right Nos. 2. 3. and 4, Nos. 2 and 3 were more forward and 1 and 4 and the Germans came around and cut them off. We could see those in No 2 throw up their hands. Mr Humphrys was in No. 3 and one one got back out of that post. He must be prisoner. T Brown (Thomas Brown 2106), Peterson (Pte Hans Henry Pederson @ Petersen 142 D.O.W.) and Cubis (Stanley Frederick Cubis 1663) were also in that post.
Pte Robert Turner 4527 II Plt A Coy 26th Bn – I saw Lieut Humphrys (26 A) being taken prisoner in March at Lagnicourt. We had taken the village at daybreak and had gone past the village. He was out on a Machine Gun Post with L/Cpl Brown (26 A Machine Gun). The Germans counter attacked suddenly and captured about seven men who were all together at the Post. I was about 200 yards away at the next M.G. Post and saw them being carried off.
Pte Patrick Foley 4135 26th Bn – They were all machine gunners. Mr Humphrys was in charge of the section. The machine gun got blocked and the stock was blown off. Then Fritz came over and took the lot prisoner. Cpl Stafford T (Alfred Stafford 3167 26th Bn D.C.M. & K.I.A. 08/08/18) was one who was there and got away. He was recommended for that days work. He is now in England. S/B Harrison was also near by and told me about it.
Pte William Thomas Jones 3503 26th Bn – At Lagnicourt on the 26th March after we got the German front line, Mr Humphrys went out with a M.G. Party and four men. We saw the Germans come in on the flank and take him and four men prisoners. I know there was Cpl Lang (Cpl James Andrew Lang 3084 26th Bn W.I.A. and P.O.W.) and Galbraith (Roy Fead Galbraith 3491 26th Bn) with him. Mr Humphrys was not wounded and we saw him taken. We went out but found no chance of doing anything for them.
Cpl Alfred Stafford 316726th Bn – He was in No. 1 post at Lagnicourt. I was in No. 3. The Germans surrounded No. 2 and No. 3. I now because we from No. 1 tried to assist them. He was posted as missing that day but the 9th (Btn) found his body a little later and handed his disc and belongings to our H.Q. I was talking to a 9th Btn man who was there when he was found. I don’t know his name. I also heard our own Officers talking about it. I was in A Coy. He was with III when killed but this was not his Plt.
Pte George Henry Finch 5584 26th Bn – They were all in A Coy and were at an advanced post at Lagnicourt on 26/03/17 between 7 & 9 a.m. The enemy worked round them and as our machine gun. Our boys were seen going over to the enemyh with their hands up and were marched away. Lieut Humphrys was in charge of the party and was taken prisoner of war also. This information was read out in Battalion Orders. The Germans were in force 10 to 1. Our boys had no chance at all. It was wet and muddy sleety day and they could not use their rifles.
Finch stated that this statement referred to the following 26th Bn members:
• Humphreys Lieut - K.I.A.
• Browne, Thomasl 4099 Cpl - K.I.A.
• Lang James Andrew 3084 - P.O.W.
• McMurtrie, Alexander 3084 Lnce Sgt – P.O.W.
• Ronaldson, Ronald 1701 Cpl – K.I.A.
• Skerritt, Edward John 555 Pte - K.I.A.
• Smith,Harry Owen 4212 Pte – K.I.A.
• Wood, Walter Henry 3157 Pte – P.O.W.
Pte Stanley Cubis 1663 26th Bn – I saw Lieut Humphrys fall and I heard from others that he was killed. One was Sgt Kickling of the 26th Battn, who was captured with me by the Germans at Lagnicourt on 26/03/17. Lieut. Humphreys (sic) was one of our party and at the time of the occurrence would be about 80 yards away from me. Sgt Keckling told me that Lieut. Humphreys was shot through the head by a machine gun bullet and was killed instantly. It would be about 10 o’clock in the morning 26/02/17. he was in charge of No. 2 (not sure) Platoon A Coy at the time, we were holding the Germans up while the battaklion retired to Lagnicourt. I don’t know if he was buried as we were captured about 10 minutes after he was shot.
Pte Herbet Thomas Walters 1284 26th Bn –
During the morn – about 6.30 a.m. on 26/03/17 I saw Humphreys (sic) hit by shell on the body killing him instantly. I saw him taken away for burial about 10.30 a.m. same morning. He was killed at Lagnicourt and buried there on the field about 300 yards from where he fell near the edge of the town of Lagnicourt.
26/03/17 M.I.A. believed to be P.O.W. now K.I.A.
Pte Roy Fead Galbraith 3491 IV Plt A Coy 26th Bn. Returned P.O.W. Statement on 03/12/18.
We attacked Lagnicourt at 4 a.m. on 26/03/17. We reached Lagnicourt and then went on to the 2nd sunken road on the right of the town. Lieut Humphreys was in charge of my Plt and Captain Lloyd of the Coy, and both arrived at the sunken road safely. We reached our objective with very few casualties and dug in the best we could. Our right flank was exposed and when the Germans ciounter-attacked, they got right round behind us from the right. During this counter-attack, Lieut Humphreys was killed and I was wounded in the leg. We kept on resisting as long as we could till we were overpowered and captured. The enemy was very much superior in numbers to us.)
Pte Walter Henry Wood 3157 15th Plt. D Coy 26th Btn. Returned P.O.W. Statement.
On Monday morning at 5.30 a.m. we were ordered to hop over and take Lagnicourt village. My Lewis Gun was to go on the right side of the village and I had orders to go past the village 200 yards, and dig in, all of which we did do. Our O.C. Lieutenant Lloyd came along and told us to hang on at all cost until we had further orders from him. That would have been about 6.15 a.m., and just then the Germans counter-attacked, but we stopped that. About 6.45 a.m. he reformed and came over again. We ran out of ammunition and it started to rain and the Lewis Gun jammed and they got right up to our post of six men. While the Germans were advancing, my No. 2 on the Lewis Gun was killed and I was wounded in the neck, and I know no kmore until I woke up about 48 hours later in Cambrai. The whole of the Post were taken prisoners excepting the one man killed. I was No. 1 on the gun.)