Topic: Trooper James Samuel Humphreys

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War who died of malaria.

Humphreys, J. S.

Trooper James Samuel Humphreys - 18384 

James was born at Tai Tapu on 3rd August 1894, second son of Samuel and the Eliza Humphreys. He received his education at the Tai Tapu and Halswell Schools, after leaving school he worked on his father’s farm. His last occupation was farming for father.  He had previous military experience,   having served with the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry, B Squadron and was described as a popular member. He was 5ft 9in tall with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

James enlisted on 26 July 1916 and was assigned to the 20th Reinforcements, New Zealand Mounted Rifles. After training at Featherston he embarked on 14th December 1916 on board the Moeraki then transferred to the Mooltan at Sydney for Suez. He arrived on 24th January 1917 and was posted to the Mounted Rifles training Regiment at Moascar on the same day. He was transferred to the Mounted Rifles in the field on 29 April and posted to 1st Squadron on 2nd May. He was sent to 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital with tonsillitis on 6th August  then admitted to 24th Stationary Hospital in Kantara on 13th August. After treatment in 27th General Hospital at Abbassia he was discharged to duty although the diagnosis now read “deflected nasal septum” not tonsillitis. He returned to Moascar and was posted to the Remount Camp at Rafa on 20th October. He was transferred to the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in the field on 14th January 1918 and then on 19th he was detached to Regimental Transport joining them in the field. The Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment and the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade moved east across Palestine into the Jordan Valley in early 1918 as part of the Anzac Mounted Division. Unfortunately the Jordan Valley was a very unhealthy place to garrison owing to the insect life. Although efforts were taken to stop the mosquitos from May onwards increasing numbers of troops were struck down. On 5th October he was admitted to hospital with malignant malaria and the 12th he was placed on the dangerously ill list at the 36th Stationary Hospital at Gaza where he died the same day. He was buried the following day at the Gaza Military cemetery. In New Zealand James is remembered on the Tai Tapu War Memorial and also the plaque in St Pauls Church.

Researched and written by L M Seaton


CWGC Cemetery locale history: Gaza was bombarded by French warships in April 1915. At the end of March 1917, it was attacked and surrounded by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the First Battle of Gaza, but the attack was broken off when Turkish reinforcements appeared. The Second Battle of Gaza, 17-19 April, left the Turks in possession and the Third Battle of Gaza, begun on 27 October, ended with the capture of the ruined and deserted city on 7 November 1917. Casualty Clearing Stations arrived later that month and General and Stationary hospitals in 1918. Some of the earliest burials were made by the troops that captured the city. About two-thirds of the total were brought into the cemetery from the battlefields after the Armistice. The remainder were made by medical units after the Third Battle of Gaza, or, in some cases, represent reburials from the battlefields by the troops who captured the city. Of the British Soldiers, the great majority belong to the 52nd (Lowland), the 53rd (Welsh), the 54th (East Anglian) and the 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions. During the Second World War, Gaza was an Australian hospital base, and the AIF Headquarters were posted there. Among the military hospitals in Gaza were 2/1st Australian General Hospital, 2/6th Australian General Hospital, 8th Australian Special Hospital, and from July 1943 until May 1945, 91 British General Hospital. There was a Royal Air Force aerodrome at Gaza, which was considerably developed from 1941 onwards. Gaza War Cemetery contains 3,217 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 781 of them unidentified. Second World War burials number 210. There are also 30 post war burials and 234 war graves of other nationalities.

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Trooper James Samuel Humphreys

First Names:James Samuel
Last Name:Humphreys
Date of Birth:3 August 1894
Place of Birth:Tai Tapu
Date of Death:12 oct 1918
Place of Death:Gaza, Israel.
Memorial or Cemetery:Gaza War Cemetery, Israel.
Age at death:24
User Name:L M Seaton
Other names known by:Birth record gives Samuel James
Occupation before enlisting:Farmer
Marital Status:Single
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:26 July 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Samuel and Eliza Humphreys, of Tai Tapu, Christchurch.
Service Number:18384
Rank last held:Trooper
Embarkation:14 December 1916
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Theatres of War:Middle East
Cause of Death:Died of malaria
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Trooper James Samuel Humphreys by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License