John JOHNSTON #2430
Indigenous Australian, John JOHNSTON, 11th Light Horse Regiment
John JOHNSTON born in 1891 near Boulia to George Michael and Lucy Agnes Johnston, was a station hand working at Oondooro Station, Winton when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in October 1917. Johnston had attempted to enlist earlier but had been refused on the basis of his heritage, this time however he was accepted along with many other indigenous recruits, who included:
William Brown, Fred Burnett, Edward and Fred Collins, Jack Costello, Harry Doyle, Joe Fitzroy, Frank Fisher, John Geary, Jack Kearns, James Lingwoodock, Leonard Lynch, Frank Morris, James McBride, David Molloy, Harry Murray, William Nicholld, Jack Oliffe, Charlie Parks, Jack Pollard, Ed Smith & Joe White.
These men were all accepted for service with the 20th Reinforcements for the 11th Light Horse Regiment, and became known as the 'Queensland Black Watch'.
After training at Enoggera Camp, Brisbane, the unit embarked from Sydney on board the troopship Ulysses arriving in Egypt in January 1918. Johnston was sent to the isolation camp at Moascar having been infected with measles whilst on board ship.
Fit for service Johnston joined his unit which was serving in Palestine in May 1918, but just a few weeks later he was fatally wounded in action.
Johnston was initially buried at Jericho where he died, but was later reinterred at the Jerusalem War Cemetery, with over 2400 other allied casualties of the First World War.
The military authorities attempted to contact Johnston's nominated next of kin, his mother Lucy, but were unable to do so. His service medals, commemorative certificates and plaques remained unclaimed.
- Service record: JOHNSTON, John
- Embarkation roll: 20th Reinf. 11th Light Horse Regiment
- Roll of honour
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- 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.