WW1 Joseph Augustus Humphries (8/4145)

Joseph Humphries. (Auckland Weekly News 23 Aug 1917. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19170823-40-5)

Joseph Augustus Humphries was born 18 August 1893, in Kumara on the West Coast of the South Island to land surveyor, Thomas Humphries and Martha Ann Humphries (Ward). Joseph’s father eventually became Surveyor General for New Zealand frequently moved around the country, and for a time their address was 109 Federal Street, Auckland. Joseph’s name is engraved on the Remuera Primary School World War One Memorial gates.

At the time of his enlistment in December 1915, Joseph was working as a Bushman for the Patata Timber Company, Manunui, a small Whanganui River settlement, in the King Country Central North Island.

Joseph sailed on 1 April 1916 for Suez, Egypt with the rank of a Private with the 11th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion, D Company, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. [1]

Having been been born on the West Coast of the South Island, it was possible, that Joseph was assigned to the Otago Infantry Battalion, as each military Company comprised recruits from the same New Zealand geographical region until September 1917 when the men were sent overseas as generic infantry reinforcements but could still be generally assigned to their region’s unit. [2]

Joseph was sent to Estaples, France, then in 1917 to Armentieres in Belgium to fight on the Western Front. To break through German defences, a carefully prepared attack on Messines had been planned. It was a prelude to the main Allied attack, known as the Third Battle of Ypres. The Messines attack succeeded completely, but it was here on 7 June 1917 Joseph was killed in action. [3]

Joseph Augustus Humphries (8/4145) is remembered on the following memorials:

  • Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium
  • Remuera Primary School World War One Gates 1914-1918, 25 Dromorne Road, Remuera Auckland 1050
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 1 Hall of Memories.


G Ralph
July 2020