Henry Johnson

71444 Private, 15th Battalion, Notts and Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters). KIA 28th March 1918, no known grave, commemorated on Panel 52-54, Pozieres Memorial, Somme

Notts & Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) Cap Badge.
Notts & Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) Cap Badge.

Henry Johnson is one of the men whose military record was found by Trevor Lewis and Sheila Marriott, to whom we are grateful. Though born in Bottesford, he left and by the turn of the century had settled in the Sutton-in-Ashfield area, Nottinghamshire, where he was a coal miner. He was killed in action in March 1918, and has no known grave.

Family background

Henry Johnson was born in 1882 and baptised in Bottesford on the 6th February that year, son of Frederick and Maria Johnson. In 1891 the family lived at Bunkers Hill, Bottesford. Here were parents Fred and Maria, with their sons William, aged 12, and Henry, aged 9.

In 1901, Henry was 19, and working as an underground coal miner in the Sutton-in-Ashfield area. He was living in a boarding house at 17 Brook Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield, run by a 65 years old retired framework knitter named John Townsend and his wife Mary. Then, in 1911 at Forest Skegby, near Mansfield, were Henry Johnson, a 30 years old coal hewer, his 26 years old wife Mabel, three children Lilian (6), Mabel (4) and Gladys (2), plus two boarders.

Military records

Henry Johnson enlisted at Mansfield, joining the 15th Battalion of the Notts and Derby Regiment, the Sherwood Foresters. The ‘Long Long Trail’ website indicates that this battalion was part of the New Army, formed at Nottingham in February 1915, by the Mayor and a Committee, as a Bantam Battalion (with troops under 5 feet 3 inches tall). In June 1915 it came under orders of 105th Brigade in 35th Division, and landed in France on the 1st February, 1916. In 1918, it took part in the Battle of Bapaume and other actions in what is collectively known as the Battle of the Somme 1918 (the German Spring Offensive 1918), before being involved in the ‘Final Advance’ later in the year. He was declared Killed in Action on the 28th March 1918, but has no known grave.

Post-WW1 records

William Johnson, Henry’s brother born in 1878, became a railway signalman. In 1911, he and his wife Elizabeth lived at 4 South Station Cottages, Bottesford, with their son Frederick W.G., born in 1899, and daughter Daisy, born in 1907. No further information has been found regarding William’s life during or after WW1.

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