Mexborough Times, Saturday, November 17, 1917
A Denaby D.C.M.
Honoured By His Townsmen
Mr W.H.Chambers on the Duty of Civilians
On Wednesday evening in the Reresby Arms, Denaby Main, Sgt Humphry Humphries, D.C.M.(M.D.C.) of Denaby Main was presented with an illuminated address, and a gold watch in recognition of his bravery on the battlefield. The testimonials were raised by public subscription among the inhabitants of Denaby Main. The illuminated address had been artistically designed by Mr Catterell, a surveyor at the Denaby and Cadeby collieries and read :
“We, the undersigned, onbehalf ofthe inhabitants of Denaby Mainask you toaccept this testimonial, together with
a gold watch, in recognition of the distinction conferred upon you in being
awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
We are proud of the act by which you won this decoration, namely by carrying a wounded comrades some hundred yards to a place of safety, and then returning for two machine guns entrusted to your care, which you succeeded in saving, at Hamel in France.
By this act you one not only personal fame and honour (and we are not unmindful of the fact that you are the first Denaby Main lad to receive this award, but by so doing you have won honour and distinction for your native place.
We offer youour most hearty congratulations, trusting you will be spared to those honoured and dear to you when the war is over, and that your future life will be long, happy, and prosperous.”
Signed on behalf for the inhabitants of Denaby:
W.A.Chambers, Managing director of the Denaby Main
and Cadeby Colliery
W Watson Smith, manager
Edward Hanks, president of the Denaby Main branch of the Yorkshire miners Association
Arthur Roberts, secretary of the branch of the
W.L.Worsley, secretary to the testimonial committee
The gold watch referred to in the address has
an inscription thus on the inner side of the black clasp: “presented to Sgt Humphry Humphries by the inhabitants of Denaby Main and others, in recognition of his winning the DCM, September 3, 1916″
An excellent musical program was arranged, including contributions by the Denaby Main quartet party, solos by Mr Meads of Doncaster, an invalided soldierwho had wonthe DCM; also by Mr Tom Oldfield, Mr H Moulds (Mexborough) Mr W Widdowson, and duet by messrs Wilkinson and Esland. Mr W Wall (Doncaster) was the accompanist.
Mr H W Smith presided, and was supported by Mr W.H.Chambers (managing director of the Denaby and Cadeby collieries) messrs HC Harrison (Colliery agent), H Hulley (manager Cadeby Colliery) E Hanks, A Roberts, Humphries, R Gething and Mr W.L.Worsley (testimonial secretary)
The chairman said he felt it an honour to preside over a meeting of that character.Sergeant Humphries or”Bunt” as he was commonly known, was one of their own lads, and they were proud of him. (Cheers)
He had gone to France
to do his duty, and he had done it nobly. There would, no doubt, the other Denaby lads who would distinguish themselves, and he should like it to be known that they would all be similarly honoured (applause)
Mr W.H.Chambers said he was very pleased to respond to the invitation to be present that night, for they naturally felt proud of any Denaby lad who could win the D.C.M.(Cheers). They could quite believe they were all brave lads whowent to France or elsewhere from Denaby, but they could not all be given medals,though they might deserve them.
Sgt Humphries had risked his life heroically, and they were delighted to have him
amongst them that night, and to give him the honour which was his due. (Cheers). He (Mr Chambers) wondered if, as civilians, they all thought enough of what the brave lads were doing. There was an awful struggle going on, but, thank God, these lads were doing their utmost to protect this country, and all they held dear to them. (Hear hear.)
These lads were the great bulwark which enable the inhabitants to go in safety from day-to-day. If the boys had not gone to France, could we realise what would have happened? He had been in Germany, and he could tell them confidentily they would not like German methods, even in peacetime. Some foolish person said” it would not make much difference if the Germans were here”. Would it not? If they went to Germany, even in times of peace, and saw how the people cringed before authority, they would have a better conception of what it meant.
The Germans were subject to very severe discipline. The English people were not used to that, and would not like to get used to it. There, a policeman went about with a sword at his side and a pistol in his pocket! And when a military man walked along the street, everyone must get off the causeway for him! Woe betide anyone who did not recognise the “superior person.” No matter whatever sphere of life a civilian might be in, he will be bound to recognise that fact he was sure that kind of thing would not be enjoyed in England
today. Fancy if the Germans were in England. Here they would considerus aliens,
and sure there would be no English “conscientious objectors” then! (Laughter.) We should have to work for them and fight for them, and there would be no freedom whatsoever.
What was preventing this happening it? Why the presence of lads like Sgt Humphries, were stopping them, (loud cheers) They felt they were not worthy of such heroes. They certainly were not, unless they caught the same spirit, and were doing their best at home in this time of great responsibility. (here here.)
Many people went about from day-to-day thoughtlessly unselfishly, getting all they could, many not doing half their duty and meaning to get all the enjoyment they could – even some did not want the war to end, because they thought they would lose the opportunity of “getting plenty of money.” (Here here.)
Was it not really awful to think of that, when they remembered on the other handwhat those brave lads were doing in France and elsewhere. (Cheers.) They could see what was going on in Russia, where there was no proper organisation, where everyone seemed to be trying to please himself; where there was no adequate discipline – people starving, no security for persons of property in anyway.
Thank God we are not like that in England (hear hear) we were under a government which was a People’s government. What ought we to do to preserve the liberties we now enjoy? One way was to appreciate them,
and to pray for those lads were far away from all fighting for us, holding the enemy back, and fighting for freedom and right – and that not only for this nation, but for all the world. Where would the world soon be but for them?
They should pray morning and evening for them,
and whenever else they could, that God’s blessing might come upon that – that he might preserve them and give success to their efforts. They gave him great pleasure to make the presentation to Sgt Humphries, and when he returned to duty abroad, he trusted his life might be spared, and that ere long he might return to peace and happiness. (Loud cheers)
Hearty cheers were given for Sgt Humphries and if family.
Sgt Humphries replied: “I thank you very much for what you have done for me since I came from France. I think there are many good lads from Denaby in France,
and I have only been doing my bit, like any of them out there. Some of the ladshave gone under, but somebrave ladsfrom Denaby are living yet, andIhope you will
appreciate what others are doing, as you have been kind enough to do in my case, and that when they come back, they will also have a good time. When I’ve done my bit I hope to come back to start in the pit again. (Cheers.)
Mr Chambers said he truly felt it an honour to be amongst them for such a purpose. When he first came to Denaby he was told he “would not stay three months,” but more than 35 years had passed. He was getting an old man, and the time would be coming when he would be put on the “scrap heap.” (Laughter and a voice, (no, no) Some persons would not believe that (here here.)
He should certainly have departed years ago had it not been for one thing and that what was there keeping him in there now. It was the affection that he had for the Denaby people and was keeping him
amongst them (Cheers.)
Whilst he was there he should do all it could for their benefit. He had always tried to do what was fair and right in regards to the work at the collieries, but that was not all. He felt it was an obligation placed upon him to do all he coiuld for the social well-being of the people resident in the place. That he had tried to do all the time, and should continue to do, for he regarded as highly important the elevation of the social and moral life of the people. (Applause.)
Whilst he could “put one leg before the other” they could rely upon it, that would still be his