Thomas George Edward Humphries was born in November 1897, one of six children to George and Annie Humphries, from North Wootton in Somerset. George was a farm labourer, and had been married to his wife for 19 years before her untimely death in at the age of 40.
When war came, Thomas was just 16 years old. He enlisted quickly, though, joining the Royal Horse Artillery as early as the summer of 1915. Driver Humphries joined the 120 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, which was one of the many Howitzer brigades moving the large long-barrelled field guns along the front line.
Given the high use of horses during the way, and that Thomas was a Driver, it is likely that his role would have been guiding the animals in his care – this may also account for why his gravestone gives his troop as the Royal Horse Artillery.
Little remains of Thomas’ service records; he was awarded the Victory and British Medals and well as the 1915 Star, so would have been in the thick of the fighting and seen action on the Western Front.
When it comes to his passing, again details are scant. His pension records simply state that he died of ‘disease’, and he passed in the military hospital in Southwark, South London. Again, given when he died and the lack of any contemporary media report on his passing, it seems likely that the cause was a lung condition – influenza, pneumonia or tuberculosis – but that is a presumption on my part,
Whatever the cause, Driver Humphries died on 8th April 1919, aged just 21 years old.
Thomas George Edward Humphries lies at rest in the quiet graveyard of St Peter’s Church in his home village of North Wootton.