Cyril Allen JOHNSON #1340
Indigenous Australian, Cyril JOHNSON, 15th Infantry Battalion
Cyril JOHNSON was born in Sheffield, north-western Tasmania to Thomas Lewis and Esther Ann Johnson (nee Haydon) in 1888. Having already participated in the local citizen forces the 'Tasmanian Rangers' he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in December 1914 in Brisbane, age 27.
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 on 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 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.
Read more ...
- Service record: JOHNSON, Cyril Allen
- Embarkation roll: 2nd Reinf. 15th Infantry Battalion
- Roll of honour
- Roll of honour circular
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Scarlett, Philippa. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One. Fourth edition, Indigenous Histories, Macquarie, ACT, 2018
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen [oral history]
The information in this blog post has been researched by State Library staff and volunteers, it is based on available information at this time. If you have more information that you would like to share or further research uncovers new findings, this post will be updated.