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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Joe Humphrey

Although he wrote only one story for Boys' World, that single credit hides a potentially interesting story. "Our Enemy the Moon" appeared in issue 5 (23 February 1963) and, unusually for British comics, included a brief biographical panel with a tiny photograph. The panel reads thus:
When the Royal Marine Commando was formed, Joe Humphrey was one of the first to volunteer. After months of secret training, he and his comrades were ready to strike at the enemy. Sergeant Joe Humphrey was a Section Leader in this raid which he recounts.
The story is about an attack from the Adriatic Sea on a small coastal town in Italy where the Germans had the HQ if their First Parachute Division. For a tale in a boys' comic it had what could be considered quite a downbeat ending; the Commandos come face to face with the enemy and four of their number are killed, their bodies left amongst the orange trees, including that of one of Humphrey's good friends.

A little searching on the internet reveals that Sgt. Joe Humphrey has left more than this one story behind. a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife and scabbard and a green beret, all belonging to Joseph Humphrey, can be found at the Imperial War Museum. Various other objects collected by Humphrey during his wartime service have also been donated as well as a photo album with various photos and postcards collected by Humphrey during his time as a Royal Marine Commando.

Humphrey joined the Royal Marines in 1937 and took part in many of their earliest operations, including the Dieppe Raid, the landings in Sicily and the invasion of the Italian mainland. He was blinded in 1944 while serving with 40 Commando. According to Mark Seaman (Research & Information) "I understand the circumstances [of his blinding] were not those as described in the 'St Dunstan's Review' for my information is that his injuries were sustained as a result of a German blast grenade. He became a very distinguished member of the Royal Marines Association and was a good friend of Major-General Julian Thompson."

Humphrey's wartime exploits are explored more fully in Lost Voices of the Royal Navy by Max Arthur.

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