DCM GV (1293 Pte. R. Humberston. 3/Aust: I.B. - N.S.W.);
QSA (1) Cape Colony (2424 L. Cpl. R. M. Humberstone. D.E.O.VR);
KSA (2) (2424 L. Cpl. R. M. Humberstone. D.E.O.VR);
Natal 1906, (1) 1906 (Tpr. R. Humberstone, Natal Carbineers.)
DCM LG 3 June 1915: ‘On 25 April 1915, and subsequently during operations near Kaba Tepe, for conspicuous coolness and bravery in volunteering on many occasions for dangerous missions, and for judgement in carrying them out.’
MID LG 5 August 1915 (General Hamilton’s despatch dated 12 June 1915): ‘For gallant and distinguished services in the Field’
Richard Humberstone was born in Winchester, Hampshire and served in South Africa with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Volunteer Corps during the Boer War, 27 February 1900 until 31 May 1902, and with the Natal Carbineers during the Natal Rebellion of 1906 (medal and clasp entitlements confirmed). Relocating to Australia, he attested for the Australian Imperial Force at Kensington, New South Wales on 29 August 1914, aged 39 years and, having been assigned to G Company, 3rd Battalion, A.I.F., he was embarked to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on the Derflinger, landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 with the initial force. He was mentioned in despatches and was awarded the DCM for his gallantry during the initial landings and on subsequent occasions leading to his promotion to Corporal on 1 July 1915. Humberstone was wounded (gun shot wound - left eye), in the trench in front of Lone Pine on 11 July 1915 and was embarked for Malta where his left eye was excised. Onward embarked for England, he was admitted to the King George Hospital on 18 July where he was fitted with a glass left eye. Declared medically unfit on 12 December 1915, he returned to Australia on the Star of England, arriving at Melbourne on 29 January 1916 and was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force in consequence of medical unfitness on 22 May 1916. With his uniform now bearing sergeant’s stripes, he was presented with his DCM, on 23 June 1916 at a ceremony in Moore Park, Sydney. He died in May 1917.
The following article, published in the Daily Telegraph of 23 June 1916, describes more details of Humberstone’s DCM winning exploits:
‘Sergeant Humberstone, who was the hero of the day, spent many years in South Africa, but was in Bathurst when the war broke out and promptly offered his services in the A.I.F. He landed at Gallipoli with the 3rd Battalion at 5 o’clock on the morning of the original Anzac Day, and, just behind the Queenslanders, took part in the wild rush up the cliffs. Bit by bit, he said the Anzacs worked their way inland until they occupied trenches facing Lone Pine Ridge, and it was here, under the withering fire of the Turks, that he won the DCM The official statement issued at the time set forth that the sergeant had taken part in several hazardous enterprises, showing conspicuous gallantry and coolness on each occasion, and bringing each enterprise to a successful issue, to the entire satisfaction of his officers. A man such as Sergeant Humberstone, who has fought over much of South Africa, and served under such leaders as Lord Methuen and Colonel Mackenzie, the latter of whom conducted the operations against the rebel Zulu chief Bambatta, know how to take advantage of every inch of cover, and as a consequence the sergeant was able to do a lot and save his men from needless exposure and risks.
Reverting to his final exploit, the sergeant remarked “that the trench in front of Lone Pine was just hell. It was half full of dead men but I sent word that we - there were only 20 of us left, and our officer Lieutenant Brodziak (who has just returned again to the front) was shot through the neck - would hold on till supports arrived. Well, we did manage to hold on, but it was a tight corner, and not the sort of party a man wants to be at twice. I got knocked out in the end after 14 weeks in those trenches when a Turkish sniper’s or some other bullet whipped my left eye out. My one eye is as good as ever, and if they’d let me I’d be off again.’
Note: After Humberstone’s death, his estate was administered by the Public Trustee but no next of kin or blood relative was ever found. His Great War campaign medals, 1914-15 Star, BWM and Victory Medal, were issued but never claimed and so were retained by the Department of Base Records at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. In 1933 the Department was contacted by a Mrs. G. Wilson, daughter of a Mr Richard Humberstone (not identical with the recipient), claiming to be the likely next of kin but without any certainty. The officer in charge of Base Records, unconvinced of her claim, sent the following reply, dated 9 March 1933:
In the absence of any known relatives, the question of your Father’s relationship to the deceased would appear to be somewhat complicated, and for the present it is proposed to retain the late soldier’s mementoes in the custody of the Department. Should you have occasion to visit Melbourne, however, and find it convenient to call at this Office, I shall be glad to afford you the opportunity of discussing the matter further.’
On 7 September 1901 a Boer patrol tried to take horses which were being grazed at Bonteheuvel, about six miles from Griquatown. Private G Dymond was killed by a shot through the head, but the guard under Sergeant T Riley succeeded in bringing all the horses back.
“The Dukes” by Angus G McKenzie, p45.
QSA (1) CC (1400 Pte. G. Dymond. D. of E. Own V. R.)