Cyril Allen JOHNSON #1340

Indigenous Australian, Cyril JOHNSON, 15th Infantry Battalion.

By January 1915 Cyril had embarked from Brisbane on board the troopship "Seang Bee" bound for Egypt. From early March to April 1915 the Battalion was encamped at Heliopolis, where they underwent rigorous training.  The War Diary for the battalion for April then reads - "15th H.M. Transport 'Australind' at anchor at Mudros in the island of Lemnos. The troops being practiced in disembarkation by cutters and horseboats."

24th April, 6.30 am ... "Reached the entrance to the Dardanelles & witnessed the bombardment and landing of the British Troops"

The 15th Battalion landed at Anzac Cove late in the afternoon of 25 April 1915. They were heavily involved in establishing and maintaining the front line of the Anzac beachhead.

On 13 July 1915 when the Battalion was in reserve from front line duties, the Machine Gun companies of which Cyril was a member, were undergoing instruction, when he was accidentally shot in the chest. Seriously wounded - a live cartridge had penetrated his thorax, he was evacuated via the Hospital Ship 'Gascon' but died the next day of his wounds.

Cyril Johnson was buried at sea between Gallipoli and Alexandria, 5 miles off Gaba Tepe. Reverend Mayne the senior chaplain on board wrote that he was  'very brave and patient' and 'faced the end like a soldier'.

Although Private Cyril Johnson has no formal grave, his name and service is commemorated at the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli along with his many comrades.

A Court of Inquiry was held into Cyril Johnson's death at the request of Brigadier-General John Monash. After taking evidence from witnesses it found that it was an avoidable and tragic accident and made recommendations to prevent it's recurrence.

* Cyril's brother Jack also enlisted in 1915, however as he was underage (17 years) and unable to obtain his father's consent, he enlisted under a false name AKA Jack Roy ROLLINS #1867. He served in Gallipoli and Europe and was awarded the Military Medal for his service.

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Marg Powell & Des Crump


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