Thursday 9 November 2017

John Johnson

John Johnson was my 2 x great uncle.

John served with the 4th Battalion King's (Liverpool Regiment), and was killed in action at No 20 Casualty Clearing Station, France, on the Hindenburg Line, on 20 May 1917.

Born in 1893 to Joseph Johnson (1853 – 1926) and Ann Atkin (1855 -      ), John was christened at St Paul’s Church, Kirkdale on 2 August 1893. In the 1901 census, John is living with his parents and siblings, and brother in law at 1 Caradac Road, Seaforth.

Pte 8942 of the 4th Battalion The King's (Liverpool Regiment) is buried at Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux (grave IH16).

He is also commemorated on Bootle Civic Memorial and also on a memorial at Linacre Methodist Mission.

As a child he attended the Mission school, and earlier in the war wrote the following letter to them:

“I am glad to say that I am keeping well. My brother is out here, but not near the firing line. He is down at the base and I get letters from him every week. He says he will be coming up this way in a few days, so I will ask him to keep with me. We shall think of the old Mission where we went to school together, and ask God to bring us both back to it. God be with you all till we meet again”

One of John's sisters was Alice Johnson (1891-1979), my great grandmother. Her daughter Edna Taylor's (1929-1984) eldest son is my dad.

The following is taken from, relating to Action on the Hindenburg Line, for 20 May 1917:

Location: The Hump. British victory. On 20th May 1917, 33rd Division in VII Corps, Third Army made a major attack on the Hindenburg Line north-east of Croisilles.
Advancing into the same area that they had unsuccessfully attacked on 23rd April, along the banks of the River Sensee towards Fontaine-les-Croisilles, the attack was delivered in the same formation, 98th Infantry Brigade on the left, advancing either side of the River Sensee and the road to Fontaine-les-Croisilles (Rue de Fontaine), 100th Infantry Brigade on the right, advancing between the Rue de Fontaine and the road to Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt (Rue Hendecourt). 98th Infantry Brigade attacking with 4th King's (Liverpool Regiment), 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and 1/4th Suffolk Regiment, the battalions successfully bombed their way into a stretch of the line around the River Sensee to capture an area known as King's Point.
100th Infantry Brigade attacked with 16th King's Royal Rifle Corps on the left, 1/9th Highland Light Infantry in the centre, 2nd Worcestershire Regiment on the right and 1st Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) in support. To the far right, 5/6th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) of 19th Infantry Brigade, were to capture The Hump, a strong point south of the Rue Hendecourt.
Moving off at 05.15am without a preliminary barrage or creeping barrage to maintain surprise, the artillery opened up on the second line trenches as the infantry attacked the first, the attack gained around a mile of the German front line trenches. Then held them against the German counter-attack.
1st Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and 20th Royal Fusiliers of 19th Infantry Brigade moving through 100th Infantry Brigade to continue the attack that evening, little else was gained and the new line consolidated in the German front line trenches. The defenders in The Hump holding out for slightly longer, 5/6th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) finally cleared it on 21st May.
On 27th May, 19th Infantry Brigade and 98th Infantry Brigade renewed the attacks on the Hindenburg second line defences, with no success but heavy casualties. Following which 33rd Division was relieved by 21st Division on 31st May.

Thank you to John and all the millions of others who gave (or were willing to give) their lives so that we may freely live ours.

Dulce et Decorum est

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