Died: 30 June 1916
Service number: 3/34537
Regiment / Service: South Wales Borderers
James Johnson was enlisted in the 4th (Service) Battalion of the South Wales Borderers. This was formed in August 1914 at Brecon as part of K1 and attached to 40th Brigade 13th (Western) Division. Moved to Park House Camp at Tidworth and in October 1914 went on to Chisledon. Was in billets in Cirencester by December 1914. Then moved to Woking in March 1915 and embarked at Avonmouth on 29th June 1915, going to Gallipoli via Mudros and landing on Gallipoli on 15 July 1915 where they relieved the 29th Division.
The Division took part in the following actions on Gallipoli:
- The Battle of Sari Bair, 6-10 August 1915
- The Battle of Russell's Top, 7 August
- The Battle of Hill 60, ANZAC, 27-28 August
Soon afterwards the Division was transferred from ANZAC to Suvla Bay. It was evacuated from Suvla 19-20 December 1915, whereupon the infantry moved after a week’s rest to the Helles bridgehead.
- The last Turkish attacks at Helles, 7 January 1916
It is likely that James was not involved in the Gallipoli action as he was not awarded the 1915 star. He probably joined the battalion in early 1916 either in Egypt or in Mesopotamia.
On 8-9 January 1916, the Division was evacuated from Helles and by 31st January was concentrated at Port Said. The Division held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences. Then on the 12 February 1916 they began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Sa'ad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps. It then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. After these efforts failed and Kut fell (29 April 1916) the British force in the theatre was built up and reorganised.
James Johnson died on 30 June 1916 and is buried in the Amara War Cemetery situated on the left hand bank of the River Tigris.
It is not known exactly where James was killed as many were taken to Amara from battlegrounds and other cemeteries.
James Johnson is commemorated on the war memorial in Ferrybridge.
A number of Johnson’s were born in Brotherton, the earliest going back to the 1790’s. However by the end of the 1800’s very few remained in the village having dispersed to other villages in the locality and further. In 1901 a Brotherton born Johnson was recorded as being resident on No 4 Bouy, Sheerness, Kent. James Johnson’s branch were the exception in that they moved into the village. In fact, James was the only one who was born in Brotherton as they seemed to be an itinerant family.
James’ father was John W. who had been born about 1848 in Birstwith - a village between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge. He had married Adelina who came from Dewsbury. The 1901 census records them as having 5 children - Charles William was born in Hunslet in 1889, Margaret in Goole in 1891, James in Brotherton in 1893, Mary in Ferrybridge in 1898 and Hannah also in Ferrybridge in 1899. Their stay in Brotherton could not have been long - possibly between about 1890 to 1897 based on the birthplaces and dates of births given above. At the time of the census they had moved again to Ferry Fryston where their address was given as Rantor Row. John W was a ‘Joiner’ by trade.