Cecil Humphreys signature
Cecil James Gaston D’Herbez Humphreys died on this day in 1918. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on August 14th, 1917 at the age of 20. His regimental number was 74523 and he was five feet nine and a half inches tall. Humphreys was granted a commission in the Corps on December 5th of the same year. He was working as a flying instructor for 89 Canadian Training Squadron of the Deseronto Wing of the Royal Air Force when he died. The RAF casualty card notes that he died in a flying accident in a Curtiss JN-4 aircraft and that Cadet W. A. Tramble was slightly injured in the incident.Cadet Tremble gave the following evidence to the Court of Inquiry held at Camp Mohawk on the day of the accident:

Detail from Attorney General's 1918 file RG 4-32/1745 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail from Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/1745 at the Archives of Ontario

6th. Witness.

No. 154368 Tremble W.A. Cadet 89 C.T.S. states:-

About 11.30 a.m. July 15/7/18. I was on my fourth trip up in the air practising gentle turns with Lieut. Humphreys. On the way home Lieut. Humphreys was driving the plane. He made three climbing turns around a yacht on the lake. While making the third turn the right wing tip touched the water, throwing machine directly over on it’s back. Next thing I remember was coming up out of the water about five feet from the fuselage. I then swam over to machine and removed my tunic and helmet and then made two attempts to remove Lieut. Humphreys, but was unable to do so. By that time one of the crew off the yacht picked me up in a small boat, but refused to dive under the machine. The owner of the yacht then arrived with a second boat and made several attempts to remove the Officer by diving under the machine. Attempts were also made by a man with a launch but neither were successful. As machine was sinking they decided to get a line on it. After doing so I went ashore in one of the small boats and telephoned from Mr. Chas. Walters cottage, Napanee, to Deseronto reporting the accident.

After telephoning I changed my clothes and then went down to the shore. Here the Medical Officer ordered me to lie down in the launch and rest. Then went to a cottage and rested until taken to Deseronto, by the Medical Officer.

The death registration records that Humphreys died in the Bay of Quinte, by drowning and the Deseronto Post reported the accident in the following way:

1918 Jul 18 Deseronto Post report of Lieut Humphrey's death

Lieut. Cecil J. Humphry Drowned

Lt. Cecil J. Humphry of the R. A. F., an instructor at Camp Mohawk met a tragic death by drowning on Monday when the machine in which he was instructing a cadet plunged into the Bay of Quinte near the High Shore. The cadet, sitting in the back seat was able to free himself. The late Lt. Humphry comes from Selkirk Ave., Victoria, B. C. His mother is at present in England. The remins were conveyed with military honors from the Presbyterian Church to the R.A.F. plot, Deseronto Cemetery where burial took place.

Cecil was born on June 6th, 1897 in Langport, Somerset, England, the son of Charles James Humphreys and Berthe Marie Therese (née D’Herbez). The family arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1911 and lived for a while in Spokane, Washington. Cecil attended McGill University and had been working for the Bank of Nova Scotia before he enlisted. He gave his home address as 924 Selkirk Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia.

Humphreys was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

Grave of C. J. Humphreys

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