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Person Details
Sunninghill, Berkshire
William Johnson was the youngest of three boys born to William and Ann Johnson (née Willis). He was born in Sunninghill, Berkshire; his birth was registered in 1890 (J/F/M Windsor Berks). His father William was born in Denby, Denbighshire, Wales, the son of Thomas Johnson who in 1886 was a farm bailiff. William was a domestic coachman. His mother Ann was born in Bruton, Somerset. William and Ann were married at Croydon St John on 12 August 1886 (J/A/S Croydon Surrey); the four witnesses at their wedding included Elizabeth and Martha Willis who were probably Ann's sisters. They started their marriage in Pinner, Middlesex where William’s two elder brothers were born, Frederick birth registered 1887 (J/F/M Hendon Middx) and Albert birth registered 1888 (J/F/M Hendon Middx). By 1891 William and Ann had moved to Berkshire and were living at the Cedars Stables, Church Lane, Sunninghill, with their sons Frederick and Albert. Also in the home on the night of the census was a visitor, Elizabeth Wallis (40 b. Bruton), a dressmaker. The boys lost their mother in 1896 when she died at the age of 43. William and his three sons were still living in Wantage in 1901; William snr. employed a housekeeper, Caroline Fuller (23 b. Wantage). William senior remained in Sunninghill and was living at Mead Lodge, Wantage in 1911; also in the house on the night of the census was a boarder, Stanley Gregory (16), a domestic groom. William included the information on the census that he had been married for nine years and that there had been three children of the marriage, one of whom had died. Although the registration of Frederick's death has not yet been traced, his younger brothers Albert and William have been identified on the 1911 Census. Albert had moved to Ipswich where he was working as a compositor and William was working as a domestic gardener at The Gardens, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire where he shared accommodation with seven other gardeners including the gardener-in-charge and the foreman. William jnr. later moved to Nottinghamshire to work on the Welbeck estate at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens.
In 1911 he was a domestic gardener in Buckinghamshire. He was later employed on the Welbeck estate at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens.
09 Aug 1915
692579 - CWGC Website
13096
Enlisted Worksop
Sergeant
9th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
William Johnson enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters at Worksop. His battalion sailed from Liverpool in early July 1915 for Gallipoli, landing at Suvla Bay 7 August 1915. He was killed in action two days later on 9 August. He has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his father, William, was his legatee. Four men who joined the 9th Notts and Derbys from Holbeck and Welbeck Estates fell on the 9th August 1915, John Everett, Cyril Hancock, William Johnson and James Mitchie. Mansfield Reporter, 10 September 1915: ‘Welbeck’s Heroes. Many Portland Estate Employees Fall. Sympathy of the Duke and Duchess. News has reached Welbeck of the death of a number of men who enlisted from the Duke of Portland’s estate, and most of whom are in the Sherwood Foresters. The battalion took part in the fight at Gallipoli, early in August and suffered severely. Among the dead are Lance-Corporal JH Michie, son of his Grace’s wood steward, and Privates William Johnson, Frank Fletcher, Everitt, and Cyril Hancock, all of whom were employed at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens. Private Arthur Williams is missing, and Private Hayes and Tom Milner are wounded. The sad news has come from Corporal Grant, one of the garden staff, to Mr J Gibson, the Duke’s head gardener. It is a touching letter, and it is easy to discern that it was written under a sense of great personal loss. Corporal Grant writes: ‘Dear Sir, I am writing to confirm the sad news I sent you of those who met their death on the -, It is more than sad to tell you that there is no doubt of the worst having happened to Jimmy Michie, Everitt (from Hunciecroft), Frank Fletcher, William Johnson, and Cyril Hancock. Arthur Williams is missing, and I fear the worst. I have tried several times to find tidings of him but have failed. Hayes from the stable, and Tom Milner are wounded in the legs and are on their way to England. The battle on the , when these men fell was terrible, and the regiment suffered severely, and if you could only have seen the heroism of many of the Welbeck men and others you would have felt more than proud of them. There is no doubt that their behaviour in face of almost certain death, and their coolness was a help to others. Poor lads, they were buried as near as possible where they fell, and a cross on each grave is now all that indicates their last resting place. They fell like heroes. God bless them. The report of Lance-Corporal Michie’s death is confirmed in a letter which Mr and Mrs Michie received from Sergeant Ward, of the 9th Battalion. ‘Just a line,’ he says, ‘to let you know how very sorry I am to inform you of your son’s death. But I am very pleased to say that he died a soldier’s death and was buried by his comrades and we placed a little wooden cross on his grave. He was shot through the heart, death being instantaneous. As you will see by the papers, the Battalion lost very heavily, your son being one of those killed. His loss will be felt by his comrades as he was as good a soldier as could be wished for. I hope you will excuse me taking the liberty of writing to you and letting you know. I can assure you that in your sad sorrow you have his comrades’ sympathy.’ The Duke and Duchess of Portland and members of the family have written to the relatives of the men, expressing sympathy and admiration of their heroism.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Research by Colin Dannatt
Remembered on