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Private John Johnston

 

Johnston

 

John Johnston was born on 26 November 1895 at Croaghrim, Florence Court, County Fermanagh, the third child of a large family of agricultural labourer John Henry Johnston and his wife Rebecca (nee Price).

Johnston enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Enniskillen on 20 October 1914 (No.15255). However between 10 June and 6 July 1915 he joined the North Irish Horse (No.1698 – later Corps of Hussars No.71507). This may have been at the request of the commanding officer of A Squadron, Lord Cole, as John's father worked on Cole's estate at Florence Court.

He embarked for France on 22 September 1915 as part of a reinforcement draft and was posted to either A or D Squadron.

In May 1916 A, D and E Squadrons came together to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February 1918. The regiment was then converted to a cyclist regiment, serving as corp cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Johnston saw action with the regiment throughout this period, including in the final Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918.

During November he became ill due to "exposure on military duty" and was evacuated to hospital. However he died on 12 November, the day after the Armistice was signed. Lance Corporal Johnston was buried at the Caudry British Cemetery, Nord, France, grave I.C.19. The gravestone inscription reads:

71507 LANCE CPL.
J. JOHNSTON
NORTH IRISH HORSE
12TH NOVEMBER 1918 AGE 21

 

In September 1919 Johnston's mother wrote to a Captain Gordon seeking financial assistance:

I am writing to ask you if I am entitled to any relief from the Ulster Volunteer Fund. My son was in the 11th Inniskillings and was in your company sometime and was then transferred to the North Irish Horse. He died on November 11 1918 from pneumonia following an attack of flu. I shall be very grateful if you will kindly let me know.

The following month she wrote again:

I received your letter and I will be very grateful if you will kindly put my claim before the committee. My son’s name and No: 71507 Private John Johnston, Reserve Cavalry, North Irish Horse. I received a weekly allotment from him of 7/4. He enlisted on October 20 1914 and always contributed towards my support before he joined the Army by the weekly sum of 10/-. My husband is alive and employed as a farm steward by the Viscount Cole. The names and ages of my children are: Mary Ann Johnston, age 16, George Johnston age 15, Frank Johnston age 14, Hugh Johnston, age 10. Thanking you very much. I remain yours faithfully, Rebecca Johnston.

 

Image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Coordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org. Rebecca Johnston's letters from the Impartial Reporter of 14 April 2014, courtesy of Neil Johnston.