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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 3706 3 Jan 1891 26y5m 5 Jun 1917 31 Jan 1919 3

Private Sydney Johnson (1891—1965)


Private Sydney Johnson enlisted in Brisbane on 5 June 1917 and was given the number 3706. 

Family background and early life

Sydney, the son of Hollis and Elizabeth, was born in Brisbane on 3 January 1891.  His father Hollis was born on 25 March 1863, married in 1889 and died in 1930 to be buried in the Toowong Cemetery. Sydney had two siblings Herbert born in 1893 and Pearlie born in 1898 .

Enlistment and overseas service

Johnson enlisted into the 25th Battalion and according to his Attestation Paper he was single, a grocer by occupation, 5ft 4in (163cm) tall, weighing 132lbs (60kg). His hair and complexion were dark, his eyes were grey.  He named his father Hollis Johnson of 125 Terrace Street, New farm as his next of kin and requested that 4 shillings (40 cents) a day be paid to his mother Elizabeth (née Crouch) after he embarked.  This he did in Sydney on 2 August 1917 sailing on the Miltiades A28.

Two months later on 2 October he disembarked in Glasgow and marched in to the 12th Training Battalion.  On 8 January 1918 he proceeded to France as a reinforcement to the 25th Battalion and allocated the letter ‘a’.

The Australian War Memorial says of the 25th Battalion:

1918 was an exhausting year for the 25th Battalion. It fought to turn back the German spring offensive in April, and then participated in battles at Morlancourt, Hamel, Amiens and along the Somme Valley as the German Army was pushed ever closer to defeat. These actions sapped the strength of the AIF, already terribly weak due to earlier casualties and lack of reinforcements. In September, the 25th was one of several battalions ordered to disband to reinforce others. Its troops mutinied, winning the Battalion a temporary reprieve.  

On 8 August 1918, Johnson was wounded in action and on 12 August was invalided to the United Kingdom and admitted to the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford with gunshot wounds to his legs. The record adds ‘sev’ but it is not clear whether this means ‘severe’ or ‘several’ wounds.

The Third Southern General Hospital was a territorial-force hospital based in Oxford at existing hospitals and other large facilities. It was officially opened at the Examination Schools on 16 August 1914 with a dedication ceremony attended by the Bishop of Oxford. It eventually had at least ten different branches in Oxford, with wards occupying both university and city buildings.

On 20 November 1918, just over a week after the Armistice, Sydney Johnson was returned to Australia per Suevic D33, invalided with gunshot wounds to his right leg, and discharged on 31 January 1919. Sydney was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Post war

Johnson married Violet née Marshall on 4 February 1922. Violet, the daughter of Thomas and Esme Marshall was born in 1886 and died in 1960.  Sydney Johnson died in 1965 and was buried with Violet in the Lutwyche Cemetery. 

Reference List
• Google Maps, 2017
Hollis - Davis - McDougal Genealogy
• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 military records
• First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Australian War memorial.  25th Australian Infantry Battalion
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Compiled by Bob Warrick, Brisbane.  March 2017 ©



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