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Person Details
31 Mar 1895
West Bridgford
He was the son of Daniel and Emmeline Johnson (née Slater ) and they lived at 23 Ebers Road, Mapperley Park, Nottingham. Daniel and Emmeline had 5 children the eldest being Pillip Norman, and also Margaret Emmerline, Winifred Mary, Clifford Paul and Adrian Forbes . In the 1911 census the family are living at Hatfield Road, Mapperley Park. His father owned a Nottingham lace factory. He attended Nottingham Boys' High School and University College Nottingham. His sister Winifred taught at Southwark Street Elementary School Nottingham. In late 1915, she resigned and nursed (awarded two Scarlet Efficiency Stripes) in France until the start of 1919. His younger brother, Adrian Forbes Johnson served as a lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery was slightly wounded on 6th November 1917 and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918.
Member Nottingham Rowing Club.
16 Oct 1918
570658 - CWGC Website
23 Ebers Road Mapperley Park Nottingham.
  • MC MC Military Cross
  • MD MD Mentioned in Despatches
1/4th (Hallamshire TF) Bn York and Lancaster Regiment
Phillip volunteered for active service on the outbreak of the 'Great War' and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment on 29th August 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant in January 1916 and to Captain in July 1916, he was mentioned in despatches on 3 occasions. He died at no 30 Casualty Clearing station on 16th October 1918 of wounds he had received on the 13th October. He is buried in Bucqouy Road British Military Cemetery, South of Arras.
Johnson's MC citation reads 'For conspicuous gallantry and ability when under intense bombardment. He led his company across in support of other troops. He organised his command skilfully and repelled some bombing attacks. He personally reconnoitred the enemy and brought back six machine guns. His personal gallantry and cheerfulness has done much to maintain the fighting efficiency of his command'. It seems that P N Johnson was fatally wounded in an action to take the village of Haspres. After the day closed some advance had been made, but objectives had not been met, and casualties were severe. 1/4th strength on the 14 Oct had been reduced to 247 other ranks and 4 officers, the 1/5th saw their numbers reduced by “50% or 60%”. In Richard Holmes’ book. ‘Tommy’, there is a comment he made regarding men who died in the last weeks of the war; “The last Hundred Days of the war cost the British army over 260,000 casualties, well over twice the total strength of the British regular army at the time of writing. The headstones in the comet’s tail of cemeteries that trace the army’s path from Santerre across to the Belgian border tell the story all too well. In York Cemetery near Haspres, between Cambrai and Valenciennes, lie a company’s worth of the York and Lancaster regiment, with, up by the back wall, most of the machine-gunners that killed them”. I thought that I would look into it a little more. Further information states: York Cemetery, Haspres, is primarily occupied by men of the 1/4 and 1/5 battalions of the York & Lancaster regiment while Coppice Cemetery nearby is mainly occupied by men of the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers. The majority of the men in both the cemeteries died in action on the 13th October 1918, in an action to take Haspres village and the Selle river in that area. The number of men killed gives testament to the defence put up by the German forces, especially those on the machine-guns, and the village was not finally taken until 20 October with the help of tanks. The battalions started to move forward on the 11th & 12th October and at that time the 1/4th war diary says they had a strenght of “43 & 885”, although 43 sounds high for the number of officers. On the 12th the battalions were in their attack positions. From 1/4th diary; 12 Oct. At 11.20 hours received orders to advance at 11.00 - Dinners were finished hastily and battn. moved off by platoons at 25 yds interval - transport followed under B.T.O. Cpl. Bloodworth wounded by H.E. just after the start. Advanced through NAVES to high ground about U7K [an unreadable map reference. J Dillon] arriving at 14.00 hrs. Whilst on the march just E. of NAVES R.F.A. overtook us, wheeled into line at side of road, firing rapid, then advancing again. Coys were spread out on hillside in artillery formation of platoons where they rested for the night during which time it rained heavily. Preliminary order for Bde. attack on enemy holding line O22a - O29a. Operation order is attached.” The men of the 1/4th were briefed at 05.00 on the 13th, prior to moving off at 06.45, the men had had little sleep owing to the “cold & wet” but they moved off after “good breakfasts” which were ready at 05.45. The War Diary of the 1/4 as well as the post battle reports for the 1/5th and the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers lay heavy emphasis on the severity of the machine-gun fire of the defences. The following is from the War Diary of the 1/4 for 13th October. [In the shorthand of the diaries ‘coys’ = companies] “About 05.00 all details of the attack were explained to platoon cmdrs and the coys. Men had had little sleep owing to the cold and wet. Good breakfasts were ready at 05.45 hrs. Coys were ready to move off at 06.45. Bn [Battalion] advanced in artillery formation with scouts ahead. L. Gun [Lewis gun] limbers went with coys as far as AVESNES LE SEC railway, near the station of which SAA dump was formed under R.S.M. About 0845 B and C Coys crossed the crest of the high ground about O23 a & d when they immediately came under heavy machine-gun fire. Our artillery barrage did not begin until 09.00 hours and then it came down on road E of LA SELLE, thus leaving a distance of about a mile between front line and barrage. This space was full of machine-guns, esp on flanks. 51st Div were not able to advance and occupy the high ground, so that we were badly enfiladed by MG fire from our left flank. According to orders we should not have encountered any opposition on West side of LA SELLE, the 146th Bde having been told to clear ground as far as the river. B & C Coys advanced within a short distance of the river but suffered so heavily they could not hold the ground. D Coy, following C, met the same fate. A Coy was sent up to reinforce front line but were unable to advance to the river on account of such strong enfilade fire. The Bosche launched a small counter-attack against B & C Coys but was successfully driven off. About 14.30 hrs the remnants of each Coy dug in, holding the crest of the hill. Casualties estimated at A 40 o.r. B 85, C 100, D 100. All Coy and platoon cdrs were hit within an hour of zero. Battn was relieved by 2 coys of 1/4 KOYLI about 21.00 hrs and went into support” As a result of this action 50 of the Battalion lie buried in York Cemetery. As well as the 1/4 York & Lancs, they have comrades from their 1/5th battalion alongside them in York Cemetery. From their post battle report; “Companies continued the advance to the ridge top on O24d and O25a where machine gun fire clipping the top of the hill was met. The troops successfully passed through this and ‘D’ company continued the attack with great vigour down to the village of HASPRES suffering very severe casualties and in a short time losing 70% of its strength. ...but on the left 1/4 Y&L were counter attacked by the enemy from the village of HASPRES and touch was lost owing to their being driven back. The village was very strongly held with machine guns and streets just south west of the LA SELLE river also strongly defended. The church spire was also manned with a machine gun which did considerable damage to us with plunging fire on the forward slope and grazing fire on the hill top. ...it was impossible to bring artillery fire to bear on the enemy positions and our numbers being reduced by 50% or 60%, and the units on each flank being held up in a similar way, no further advance was attempted after 10.00 hrs.” After the day closed some advance had been made, but objectives had not been met, and casualties were severe. 1/4th strength on the 14 Oct had been reduced to 247 other ranks and 4 officers, the 1/5th saw their numbers reduced by “50% or 60%” while 19th Lancs estimated their casualties at 4 officers and 260 other ranks. The C.O’s post battle report shows that the 1/4th were surprised at the strength of the enemy attack and he is critical of the artillery plan that effectively left his men with no artillery support. The following paragraphs have been extracted from that report; 5. It appears that the enemy were in considerable strength in and west of the sunken road through O.18.c & d, and though my men got close up to them they were unable to take the position, possibly owing to the Officers having already become casualties. In addition to this the fire from the wood in O.10.c & d was very heavy. During the morning the enemy advanced up the slope again and established posts from 200-300 yards from our new line. 7. The attack turned out to be an advance against a very strong line of Machine Guns to all intents and purposes without Artillery support, for the barrage was 1500 yards in front of the place where we first met the enemy. It was therefore almost inevitable that heavy casualties should be incurred and little result obtained. I at any rate do not see how this could have been avoided unless the scheme had allowed for the possibility of the enemy being in such strength as they were, and for the bringing back of the barrage as soon as the advanced guards discovered the enemy before committing the Battalions to a “Fulldress” attack. 8. Each Battalion was allotted 16 R.A.M.C. bearers. This number proved hopelessly inadequate to deal with the very heavy casualties, and many fighting men had to be used as Stretcher Bearers throughout the day. These could have been ill spared in case of counter attack. I suggest that if the R.A.M.C. cannot find more men than this, Battalions should detail men before the Operation begins for this job. Last year one platoon from each Battalion in the Division was placed at the disposal of the A.D.M.S. before the Division went into action. 9. The Lewis guns very quickly used up all their ammunition. I am strongly of opinion that in future fewer guns and more ammunition should be carried. 10. My Battalion did not get into visual communication with the Brigade until about 1300 hours. I think that this might have been done much earlier, if we had known beforehand where the Brigade visual station would be. The C.O’s frustration at seeing so many of his men wasted comes through in these paragraphs. So many men lost so close to the end of the war. During the war as a whole the 1/4th (Hallamshire) Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment moved to France in April 1915 as part of the 49th (West Riding) Division and was sent to the Ypres salient by June. Over the next six months they lost 94 killed and 401 injured in the attrition warfare of the trenches.[1] After a period of rest in Calais they moved to the Somme . On 1 July the battalion was part of the follow-up assault wave. During the next three months of the campaign the Hallamshires lost 27 officers and 750 soldiers killed and wounded.[1] During the rest of the war the Hallamshires suffered many more casualties including 288 in the first use of Mustard Gas at Nieuwpoort in July 1917. In the final Allied Advance to Victory, the Hallamshires were ordered on 13 October to reach the line of the river Selle which was supposedly undefended on the western bank. They advanced across open ground without artillery support to find strongly defended enemy positions. They achieved their objective but with only 4 officers and 240 men present of the 20 officers and 600 men who had started the advance.[1] Research Simon Williams
Remembered on


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  • 23 Ebers Road Mapperley Park Nottingham childhood home of  Philip and Winifred Johnson.
    Photo David Nunn - 23 Ebers Road Mapperley Park Nottingham childhood home of Philip and Winifred Johnson.
  • Buried at Bucquoy Road Cemetery
    Philip Norman Johnson - Buried at Bucquoy Road Cemetery