John Humphreys


About John

  • Name
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    16 August 1889
  • Birth town
    Bethnal Green, Middlesex
  • Resided town
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
  • Date of death
    June 1943
  • Married
  • Occupation
    Boot Maker

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Northamptonshire Regiment


John Humphreys was born in Bethnal Green, London on 16 August 1889. His father Edward was in the shoe trade as a boot finisher. The family of ten children moved from London to Northampton around 1895 and by 1901 John was a 12 year old errand boy in the shoe trade.

In the Autumn of 1910 John married Ellen Foster in Northampton with whom he had four children. In the 1911 Census John and Ellen were living in Upper Harding Street; John was a boot maker and Ellen a domestic servant. By 1914, they had moved to Gladstone Terrace and John was working for the Bostock family which later became Lotus Shoes.

John enlisted with the 4th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on 1 April 1914 and was called up in August 1914. He passed through Peterborough East Station and signed the visitors’ book as a Corporal on 30 November 1916.  In Aldershot 1917, he qualified as a Physical Training Instructor and had a series of ‘acting’ promotions including becoming an Acting Staff Sergeant in the 9th Northamptonshire Regiment. In February 1918, the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment was posted to France and John reverted to the rank of Private.  Less than two months later he was admitted to a military hospital in Boulogne with a gunshot wound to his left buttock, before being sent back to England for further treatment.

Nothing further is known until 24 September 1918, when Private Humphreys was reported missing in action near Caulaincourt Wood (Aisne, France) where 40 men were killed. His wife Ellen was notified of his death on 5 November 1918.

It appears that Private Humphreys had been captured and interred at San Quentin (France) as a Prisoner of War. News of this reached Ellen on 4 December 1918. By 5 January 1919, John was admitted to Barry Road Auxilliary Hospital in Northampton and was eventually discharged from Northamptonshire War Hospital in March 1920.

John was discharged from the Army in June 1919, with a small disability allowance for neurasthenia (shell shock). John was still being treated at Queen Mary Convalescence Centre, Woodcote Park, Surrey in 1923,

In correspondence to the War Office John asked for his rank of Lance Sergeant to be recognised on his pension records rather than Private. Unfortunately he had not served the requisite six months in the ‘acting’ rank and his request was refused.

John was awarded the British War and Allied Victory medals and Silver War Badge.

We have traced John and Ellen in the 1939 Register when they are living at 6 Gladstone Terrace, Northampton and John is working as a pullover operator in the shoe trade.  Living with them are two of their children, John W, born 23 August 1912 and Frederick, born 14 December 1919, a clicker in the boot and shoe trade.

Please get in touch if you can tell us more about John and his family.



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