Private William J. Johnston


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not certain, other than that he was from Belfast. It seems probable that he was the William James Johnston born on 6 November 1888 at 73 Blackstaff Road, Belfast, the first of seven children of labourer David Johnston and his wife Susan (née Douglas). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 93 Donegall Road, Belfast, with his widowed mother, three of his five surviving siblings and two other relatives, and working as a laboratory assistant.

Johnston enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 and 22 August 1916 (No.2243 – later Corps of Hussars No.71720). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

Johnston was one of ten men of the regiment gassed while on a working party at Ypres on 6 September 1917. Following his recovery he probably resumed duty at the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim.

In January 1918 he embarked for Egypt with a draft of North Irish Horsemen from the Antrim depot. There he was attached to the 1/1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers), serving with that regiment in the Palestine campaign.

Johnston was still serving in that regiment as late as December 1919.