Private Joseph Humphries


Joseph Humphries was born on 28 May 1866 at Old Monkland, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, a child of plasterer Joseph Humphries. On 6 August 1888 he enlisted at Glasgow in the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) (No.3203), joining the regiment at Dundalk four days later. He gave his age as 19 years and three months and his occupation as a miner.

On 11 June 1890 he married Annabella (Annie) Smyth in the Dundalk Presbyterian Church. The couple had seven children over the next sixteen years.

On 6 August 1895 on the expiration of his seven years' service, Humphries was transferred to the Army reserve. It appears that he lived at Glasgow until called-up for service in the Boer War on 9 October 1899. He served in the Scots Greys in South Africa from 6 November 1899, where he was part of the squadron made prisoner of war at Uitval (Nitral Nek), on 11 July 1900. Following his release he returned to the UK on 15 May 1901 and was discharged at Edinburgh three months later. His military character was recorded as 'exemplary'.

Although he initially returned to Glasgow, by the time of the 1911 Census Humphries was living at Townparks, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, with his wife and their three surviving children, and working as a chauffeur.

Humphries enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 22 October 1914 (No.1329). He gave his age as 44 (his true age was 48), his address as Egleton, Hillsboro, County Down, and his occupation as coachman. He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment.

Humphries, however, presumably due to his age, was instead transferred to the Labour Corps (No.380411) on 10 October. Initially posted to the 68th Labour Company, he later served in Home Service Employment Companies in the UK. On 11 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Humphries lived at 5 Hugh Street, Belfast. For a short time he received a pension for 'weakness of left side'.