Stanley Humphreys: A Canadian Ally and Hero
Stanley Humphreys was born on May 4th, 1925 in England. At 18 years old, his life had dramatically changed into something that no one should ever have to face; especially a boy that is 18 years old.
On June 6th 1944, Humphreys bravely invaded the beaches of Normandy. The beach group, which Humphreys was part of, went in the first wave at 7:30 in the morning. This landing craft held the Berkshire Regiment as well as the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (RWR).
The RWR is a one-battalion infantry regiment of the Canadian Army originating from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nicknamed the « Little Black Devils », they spent the first three and a half years undergoing anti-invasion training during the German threat to England.
It is said that «their battle started before the assault craft touched shore on the morning of 6 June 1944.» As the one of the first to cross the English Channel, it was one of the only units to endure heavy enemy fire before landing.
Humphreys and the rest of the beach crew was responsible for the organisation of these troops on the ground. Food, ammunition were the two primary objectives, but he got anything needed for the soldiers. It is even said that Humphreys used to swim out to the ships, get their attention, and ask for bread!
Humphreys’ son, also named Stanley Humphreys, recounted one of the horrid stories told by his father:
« The first one off the landing craft disappeared because the water was too deep. Dad found [them] a few days later. They had been cut up the propeller of the landing craft. Any surviving RWR would remember this if it was their landing craft, but would not know that he was found because they would have been a few miles inland at this time. »
After finishing these few difficult weeks, there was no need for the beach crew. He was therefore transferred to the Dorset regiment. This later involved Operation Market Garden fought in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. Market Garden was the latest airborne operation up to that point in World War II.
At some point towards the end, Humphrey’s was transferred to the York and Lank’s regiment.
Humphrey is remembered to always wear his Juno Beach Canadian D-Day Lapel Badge on Remembrance Day. In continuing his fathers personal act of commemoration for his Canadian comrades, his son wears this badge every year.
Stories like this demonstrate the strong connection between our countries at the time. The respect Stanley Humphreys had in remembering our Canadian soldiers is truly inspiring. It enforces the importance for today’s generation to continue working towards an international community.