Wilfred Henry (Harry) Johnson

His military service record has not been found.

An anonymous soldier

Harry Johnson is one of the men named on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen. He served in the forces during the war, but thus far we have not been able to confirm his service record despite searches of military records and the British Newspaper Archive. In addition, we have not determined when he died or other details of this life after the end of WW1.

Family background

Wilfred Henry Johnson was born at Sedgebrook, Lincolnshire, in 1890, baptised there the 25th May 1890. He was the son of Eliza Johnson, born at Sedgebrook in 1864, and Frederick Johnson, born Muston in 1863. Eliza North and Frederick Johnson were married on the 27th January, 1887.

In 1891, the family were ‘visitor’ at the home of Ann Avery, on the High Street, Great Gonerby, Lincs. Here were Frederick and Eliza, accompanied by three children, James W. (3), Ellen (2) and Wilfred (1). Frederick was employed as a railway platelayer.

In 1901, Eliza had been widowed, and was living on Belvoir Road (Castle View Road), Easthorpe, accompanied by James (here recorded as her stepson), at work as a farm boy, Ellen, Wilfred H. (11 years old), Edith (8) and Winifred (3), together with 73 years old James North, from Allington, who was probably Eliza’s grandfather.

By the census of 1901, Eliza Johnson had been widowed. She was living on Belvoir Road (now Castle View Road), Easthorpe, which lead to Muston Gorse Farm. Living with her were her stepson James (aged 13, working as a farmer’s boy) and her children Ellen (12), Wilfred Harry (11), Edith (8) and Winifred (3), all born in Sedgebrook except Edith, who was born in Muston. There was also James North, a 75 year old cottager from Allington, who was described as a visitor but must have been one of Eliza’s relatives.

There is a record from 1909 of 19 years old Wilfred Johnson’s membership of the Colwick Branch of the Amalgamated Union of Railway Workers. Then, in the following year, he got married, also in the Basford area, to Eliza Annie Clarke. In the 1911 census, they were recorded at 42 Deabill Street, Netherfield, Carlton, and had a 5 months old daughter named Edith. He was working as a locomotive cleaner for the GNR.

Military records

There are many records for men named Wilfred Henry Johnson, Wilfred Johnson, W.H.Johnson or W.Johnson, but none that it has been possible to trace to the man from Sedgebrook. There were Wilfred Johnsons in the Nottingham section of the Honourable Artillery Company and in the South Notts Hussars, but neither seems likely to be him. There was Private 22845 Wilfred Henry Johnson of the King’s Own Lancaster Regiment who was Killed in Action in 1918, but this man came from Whatstandwell in Derbyshire. Perhaps more probable, bearing mind his background in railway work, would be men from the Royal Engineers, such as  Sapper WR/330796 W.H. Johnson of the Inland Waterways and Docks Battalion RE, or Sapper 114048 W.H.Johnson of the Depot Labour battalions RE, but there is no information to tie either to the man discussed here (information from Forces War Records).

After the end of the war

Details of Wilfred Johnson’s like after the end of the war have also proved to be elusive. For instance, searching for either him or his wife on the 1939 register has not been successful. There is the record of a man named W.Johnson who died in Nottingham in 1975, which may be him, but this is not certain.

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