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Herbert Hanson Johnson

Private Herbert H. Johnson, 58710, The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 20th Battalion

Herbert Hanson Johnson was born in Ossett on the 26th January 1889 and was baptised on the 16th October 1889 at Ossett Holy Trinity Church. Herbert’s brother, James, born on the 17th December 1885 was baptised the same day. Herbert was the son of Derbyshire born couple James Rowland Johnson and his wife or partner, Eliza Hanson. James Rowland had married widow Alice Barker (formerly Austin) in February 1884 at Ilkeston, but sadly she died in late 1884. No record has been found of a marriage between James Rowland Johnson and Eliza Hanson.

In 1891 James Rowland Johnson, a stone miner, Eliza and their three children were living on Pepper Alley, Gawthorpe. By 1901, James Rowland, an epileptic, Eliza and family, now with five children including Herbert, had moved to Aston with Aughton, near Rotherham.

It appears that in Spring 1908, Herbert Johnson was back in the Wakefield area. A 19 year-old Herbert Johnson, a miner, 5’ 0¾" tall, with brown hair, born in Ossett and living in Rotherham was found guilty of assault and imprisoned for four months at His Majesty’s Prison Wakefield. In 1911, Herbert, aged 23, had left home and was boarding with a family at Tibshelf in Derbyshire and working as a coal miner. On the 18th August 1915, Herbert married Edith Gatley Taylor at Oldham Registry Office and a child, Muriel, may have been born to the couple in early 1916.

Herbert ‘s army service record has not survived but he enlisted in the army at Sheffield and joined the Lancashire Fusiliers (service number 14118), before being transferred to the 20th Battalion The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment with regimental service number 58710.

The 20th (Service) Battalion (4th City) of the King's (Liverpool Regiment) was a Pals Battalion formed in Liverpool on the 16th October 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot. On the 30th April 1915, the battalion came under orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division and landed at Boulogne in November 1915. On the 8th February 1918, the battalion was disbanded in France.

Private Herbert Hanson Johnson was killed in action on the 10th September 1917 most probably whilst in the trenches. His battalion was not involved in any battle during September 1917. He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory Medals but not the 1914/15 Star, indicating that he did not serve overseas before 31st December 1915.

Herbert Hanson Johnson is not remembered on any Ossett Memorial or Roll of Honour perhaps because he and his family had left Ossett in the mid/late 1890’s. He is remembered in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and/or the "U.K. Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1918" listing records him as born or residing in Ossett.

Private Herbert Johnson, aged 28 years, husband of Edith G. Johnson, of 90, Dundas Rd., Tinsley, Sheffield, died on the 10th September 1917 and is buried at grave reference E. 9. at the Torreken Farm Cemetery No. 1,1 Heuvelland, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Torreken Farm Cemetery No.1 is located 7.5 Kms south of Ieper town centre, on the Langebunderstraat, a road leading from the Rijselseweg N365, connecting Ieper to Armentieres.

Wytschaete (now Wijtschate) was taken by the Germans early in November 1914. It was recovered by Commonwealth forces during the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917, but fell into German hands once more on 16 April 1918. The village was recovered for the last time on 28 September.

Torreken Farm Cemetery (there is now only one) was begun by the 5th Dorset Regiment in June 1917 and used as a front line cemetery until April 1918. The cemetery contains 90 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 14 German war graves.


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site