Topic: Corporal William Johnson

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War who died of wounds during the Somme battles.

William JohnsonCorporal William Johnson - 16/240

 William was born on 17 April 1889 at Little River, Banks Peninsular, son of Charles Johnson and Heni Paurini. Before enlisting he was a labourer for Mr A. Murray at Little River. He was 5ft nine inches with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. 

William enlisted at Avondale on 15th November 1914. He was assigned to the 1st Maori Contingent, A Company, New Zealand Maori Battalion. William embarked on 14 th February 1915 on board the Warrimoo for Suez, Egypt. He survived six months on Gallipoli from 30 June 1915 and returned to Alexandria on board the Troop ship Huntsgreen on 27 December 1915. On 14 December 1815 he was made a temporary Sergeant but it was done without authority so it was cancelled. William was admitted to hospital at Ismailia on 2nd March 1916 for a minor infection, staying 10 days but rejoined his unit. Then on 27 March 1916 he was made acting corporal at Sercus just before he embarked for France from Port Said on 9 April 1916, and finally appointed Corporal on 28 April 1916. The Battalion, now called the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, was the first unit to move onto the Somme Battlefield, where fighting began on 1 July. Under constant fire the Pioneer Battalion began work on what became “Turk Lane”, the 8km communications trench leading to the front line. On 30 Jul 1916 William was appointed company bombardier. He was wounded in action, a gun-shot wound to the head causing a fractured cranium on 4 August and died a day later of his wounds in the field hospital, aged 27. William is buried in the Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steemwerck. In New Zealand William is remembered on the Greendale and Malvern County War Memorials.

Researched and written by L M Seaton


CWGC Cemetery locale history: During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight General, five Stationary, one British Red Cross and one Labour hospital, and no. 2 Convalescent depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920.

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Corporal William Johnson


First Names:William
Last Name:Johnson
Date of Birth:17 April 1889
Place of Birth:Little River, Banks Peninsula
Date of Death:5 August 1916
Place of Death:France
Memorial or Cemetery:Trois Arbres Cemetery
Age at death:27
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:labourer
Marital Status:Single
Regiment or Service:1st Maori Contingent
Enlistment details:15 November 1914
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Charles Johnson and Heni Paurini
Service Number:16/240
Rank last held:Corporal
Embarkation:14 February 1915
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Warrimoo
Theatres of War:Gallipoli and France
Cause of Death:Died of wounds
Other biographical information:Labourer