Lieutenant Denis Simpson near Nigmegen Bridge

John Humphreys near Nijmegen Bridge

Lance-Sergeant John Humphreys at Nijmegen bridge

Lance-Sergeant John Humphreys


Unit : "B" Troop, 1st Parachute Squadron

Army No. : 1877368

Awards : Mentioned in Despatches


Lance-Sergeant Humphreys was initially recommended for an award of the Military Medal for his actions at Arnhem. The following is written in the Headquarters Royal Engineers war diary:


Between 18/20 Sep 44 Cpl HUMPHREYS was in charge of the defence of a room in a house covering ARNHEM bridge.  He held his position in this room without a break for 60 hours.  Although intense machine gun and mortar fire was directed at him and at night rifle grenades landed in the room he stood to his post throughout.  On evening 19 Sep a Tiger Tank attacked his post and blew away a wall.  Cpl Humphreys remained at the shattered wall till the house was set on fire 30 hours later.  In attempting to evade the enemy he was taken prisoner.


Later when a POW in Germany, Cpl Humphreys showed great keenness and devotion to duty in attempting to escape.  On night 21/22 Sep he formed one of a party of four who broke out and rejoined the main British force after moving through Germany and German occupied Holland for 2 nights and a day.  His previous experience in escaping from a POW camp in Italy one year ago, were invaluable in effecting the escape.  Throughout the operation Cpl Humphreys coolness and personal bravery were an inspiration to all under his command.  Recommended for an award of the MILITARY MEDAL.


His escape was made alongside Captain Eric Mackay and Lieutenant Denis Simpson, and Corporal Charles Weir with whom he shared the following citation for a Mention in Despatches:


Humphreys and Weir were captured on 20th September 1944 after fighting for three days at Arnhem. They were taken to a transit camp at Emmerich (Germany) together with officers of their unit, one of whom succeeded in concealing a hacksaw from his captors. Under his instructions Humphreys and Weir filed through the bars of the cookhouse and through this aperture the party, accompanied by a second officer, escaped the same evening. Walking through the town they gained the open fields and proceeded west to cross the frontier into Holland near Elten. The Rhine was reached near Tolkamer. After keeping the river under observation throughout the day they stole food and a small boat; in this they travelled down the Rhine to Nijmegen, where they encountered British troops.


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