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This article was written and researched by  Susannah Barton-Rossall.

Richard Walter Johnson was born at 1 St Walburgh Street,Preston on 8th April 1897, to (William) Robert Johnson and Ellen Atkinson ( nee Hibbert). Robert and Ellen had both been widowed previously, and they were married by Registrar’s Licence at St Mark’s Church,Preston on 22nd August 1891. Richard had two half-siblings from his parents’ previous marriages, then his elder brother William and two sisters Bertha and Lily. After Richard’s birth and up to 1909, five more sisters and one brother were born.

In the 1911 Census Robert and Ellen and eleven children were living at 76 Maudland Bank,Preston. Richard’s father was a Railway Brakesman and worked for the London North Eastern Railway. Richard was entered on the return as ‘Walter’;he was aged 13 and working as an errand boy for a florist.


Richard signed up with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 25th November 1915,aged 18 years & 6 months. He gave his occupation as ‘Lampman’. He was assigned to the 1st/5th Battalion of the Regiment. He remained on the home front initially.

He married Maud Wignall on 10th February 1917, at which time he was a railway porter. He left for France with the British Expeditionary Forces on 23rd May 1917. His Battalion was attached to the 165th Brigade 55th Division, & were involved with the Battle for the Menin Road, which was fought between 20th -25th September 1917.
On that first morning Richard’s company was ordered to reinforce the attack of the 165th/55th, & at 9.45 that morning they attacked from Hill 35 towards Hill 37. There was strong resistance from the enemy near the area known as Gallipoli, and Richard was killed during this action.


He has no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing at Tyne Cot Cemetery & Memorial in Belgium, and also on the War Memorial in Preston. Richard was awarded the British War and Victory medals and these were signed for by his widow Maud in 1921.


Richard’s daughter, Olive, was born on 1st August 1917. She was never to meet her father.

Paul McCormick
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