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  • Photograph courtesy of 'The Sedberghian'
Person Details
He was the third son of John and Ada Johnstone of 'Fairmead', Risley, Derbyshire, and the brother of Major Henry Archer Johnstone, RGA, who was killed in action 21 March 1918, John Gordon, who served in the 28th Battn. Canadians (d. May 1922), and Herbert Alan Johnstone, known as 'Billy'.
Educated at Sedburgh School January 1907-December 1910 and Nottingham High School. He was articled to Samuel Williams of Nottingham.
13 Feb 1916
192656 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
152nd Bde Royal Field Artillery
He was mobilised August 1914 as a gunner in the Notts Royal Horse Artillery and was Gazetted Second Lieutenant 17 March 1915. He served at Home August 1914 to January 1916 and in France January to February 1916. He was killed by a piece of shrapnel from a shell which burst near him and is buried in Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension.
The tnree brothers, Henry, William and John, are commemorated on (WMR 53194) Risley War Memorial, entrance to All Saints Churchyard, Derby Road, Risley, Derbyshire DE72 3SU William McCall Johnstone - CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'Also in memory of Major Henry Archer Johnstone killed near Bullecourt March 21st 1918. age 28. And Serjeant JG Johnstone 28th Battn. Canadians May 1922. Age 34' Henry Archer Johnstone, Wancourt British Cemetery - CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'Also in memory of Second Lieutenant William McC. Johnstone Royal Field Artillery 13 February 1916. Aged 24 buried at Erquinghem. And Serjeant JG Johnstone 28th Battn. Canadians May 1922. Age 34' Nottingham Evening Post 18 February 1916: 'News has been received in Nottingham of the death in action of second Lieutenant W. McC. Johnstone of the 188th (Nottingham) Brigade of the R.F.A. The deceased officer, who was quite young, was one of four sons of the late Mr. John Johnstone, solicitor of Nottingham, serving with the forces. He got his commission in June last year. Lieut. Johnstone was educated at Sedbergh, and was a member of the Nottingham Rowing Club.' Obituary Sedburgian School magazine (see photograph): 'W McCall Johnstone, 2nd Lieut 152nd Bde RFA (killed in action February 13th 1916). William McCall Johnstone came to the School in January, 1907, and left in December 1910. He was killed in action in France, on the 13th February. His senior officer had just told him that the battery must cease firing, owing to the presence of some German aeroplanes, which might discover its position, when a shell burst close to him. A fragment of shrapnel struck him in the shoulder, and probably travelled down to his heart. He immediately collapsed into the arms of his senior officer. Then he smiled, closed his eyes, and it was all over in a few seconds. So ended the life of one of the sweetest characters that has ever died for his country. His many friends in Sedgwick House, and in the School, will mourn for him, with a special feeling of regret that such an one should have been called upon to give up his life. He was a boy who never advertised himself, never thrust himself forward, always ‘took a back seat’, and had the greatest aversion from being conspicuous. Yet he failed to hide from those who knew him, and had intercourse with him. His extreme merit in all the essentials that go to make up a real man. His fellow officers all sent home the same report of him. As one who most efficient in his work, and who did it with thoroughness and cheerfulness. He is mourned by both officers and men. His nature was childlike without being childish: he was ‘without fear and without reproach.’ Very truly does the couplet out of the school Song Book apply to Billy Johnstone, ‘Who keeps the boy’s heart in the man, he is the true Sedberghian.’ Nottinghamshire Law Society's ROH (see photograph): 'William McCall Johnstone. The third son of the late John Johnstone of the firm of Johnstone and Williams was 23 years of age. He was educated at the High School, Nottingham, and at Sedburgh, a vigorous and successful athlete, a popular law student, Secretary of the Law Students Society, a member of the RHA at the outbreak of war, gazetted Second Lieutenant on the 13th February 1915 and killed in action on the 13th February 1916 by a shell that burst close to him when fighting his battery. He won the united praise of his fellow officers, who all reported his efficiency and thoroughness in work, his cheerful fearlessness and friendliness. The Sedburgian applies this school couplet to him as singularly appropriate, ‘Who keeps the boy’s heart in the man, he is the true Sedburgian.' The names of HC Johnstone (Gunner RHA), W Johnstone (Gunner RHA) and Allan Johnstone (Sherwood Foresters) were included at the bottom of a printed list of members of the Nottingham Rowing Club who were on the Active Service List as at November 1914 under the heading, ‘Three sons of our late esteemed member John Johnstone are serving with the Colours.’ The list was inserted in the NRC Minute Book. (Nottinghamshire Archives, ref. DD/865/1/10, NRC Minute Book 1912-1919) In the grant of probate awarded to his mother, Ada Johnstone, he left effects of £573.
Remembered on


  • Photograph courtesy of 'The Sedberghian'
    William McCall Johnstone - Photograph courtesy of 'The Sedberghian'
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  • From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.
    - From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.