Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Rifleman Alexander Johnston, MM



Alexander (Sandy) Johnston was born on 12 October 1896 at Sturgan, near Camlough, County Armagh, second child of farmer Charles Johnston and his wife Isabella (nee McClean).

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse in March 1916 (No.2131).

In November 1916 Johnston, together with around 100 other North Irish Horsemen, volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.40880). They embarked for France on 7 December, where they joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on the Somme front.

On 16 August 1917 Johnston's battalion took part in the Battle of Langemarck, part of Third Ypres. The battalion war diary for the day listed 27 other ranks killed, 7 wounded and missing, 170 wounded, and 63 missing.

Rifleman Johnston was one of those killed in action that day. Initially reported as wounded, then as wounded and missing, it was announced that he and some others in the battalion had been awarded the Military Medal "for gallantry in action East of Ypres between 15/8/17 – 17/8/17". The Belfast News-Letter later reported that:

A communication, which was addressed to Rfman. Johnston from the War Office, and which was forwarded to his mother about the time she received the intimation of his death, shows that he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty on 15th and 16th August last.

As he has no known grave, Rifleman Johnston is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlanderen, Belgium, Panel 139.


Note: Some records, including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission register, show Johnston's award as a Distinguished Conduct Medal. This is incorrect.



Images kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org.