The AIF Project

James Schoular JOHNSON

Regimental number373
Place of birthStawell, Victoria
SchoolStawell State School, Victoria
Other trainingBlacksmith
OccupationHorse driver
AddressAntwerp, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation33
Height5' 8"
Weight172 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs I Johnson, Antwerp, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date22 July 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit nameMachine Gun Company 2, Reinforcement 5
AWM Embarkation Roll number24/7/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A73 Commonwealth on 19 September 1916
Regimental number from Nominal Roll373B
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Machine Gun Battalion
FateKilled in Action 14 September 1917
Place of death or woundingWesthoek Ridge, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death35
Age at death from cemetery records34
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 31), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Age incorrectly entered on Imperial [later Commonwealth] War Graves Commission records as 22. Parents: Joe and Mary JOHNSON; husband of Ida E. JOHNSON, Church Street, Dimboola, Victoria
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 19 September 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 14 November 1916; marched in to Australian Details, No 3 Camp, Parkhouse, 15 November 1916.

Marched in to Machine Gun Training Depot, Grantham, 23 November 1916; taken on strength of 22nd Machine Gun Company, 17 March 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 17 March 1917.

Owing to duplication of regimental numbers, letter 'B' is attached.

Appointed Lnce Corporal, 29 March 1917.

On Command, 2nd Army Rest Camp, 28 August 1917; rejoined unit, in the field, 8 September 1917.

Reported missing in action, Belgium, 14 September 1917.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 22 April 1918, pronounced fate as 'Killed in action, 14 September 1917.'

Statement, 368 Pte H.G. COLE, 22nd Machine Gun Company, 16 January 1918: 'On about September 20th 1917, No. 373 L/Cpl Johnson J.S. 22nd Machine Gun Company, was reported from a fatigue party as missing. A night or two later were were informed by an Artillery Battery of a body of one of ourcompany lying in front of their guns. I viewed the body, and to the best of my belief, it was No. 373 L/Cpl Johnson J.S. 22nd Machine Gun Company, as he was the only man missing up to that date. The head was mutilated but the colours were on the tunic.'

Note, Red Cross File No 1450112: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Statement, 414 Pte J.K. CRAWFORD, 2nd Machine Gun Bn (patient, No 26 General Hospital, Etaples), 15 February 1918: 'I was with him on the night of September 13th. We were up in front of Polygon Wood making machine gun positions that night. There were three of us working at distances of about 5o yards apart. This was about midnight. The Germans started putting over 5.9 [inch] shells. I went back. Soon afterwards I called out if anyone was hit. The third man called out that he was all right. I did not hear anything from Johnson though I called out to him. Next morning he was missing and was the only man of the party missing. He must certainly have been blown up by one of the shells that came over though we could find no direct evidence to that effect.'

Second statement, 393 Pte L.V.D. PRICE, 22nd Machine Gun Company, 17 February 1918: 'I saw him killed by a shell which nearly blew his head off. This happened at Belwood Gully [Bellawaarde Ridge], near Polygon Wood, Ypres. We were digging a position for a machine gun at the time. [W]e buried him near to where he fell, and erected a temporary cross with his name and particulars.'

Third statement, 378 Pte H. McCARTHY, 22nd Machine Gun Company (patient, Belmont Road Hospital, Liverpool, England), 18 January 1918: 'I was at Wethoek Ridge on Sept. 14th. We were carrying ammunition to our gun position and when we returned to camp we found Johnson was missing. We found his body two days afterwards and buried him where we found him and erected a cross over the grave. I was present at the burial.'

Fourth statement, 529 Pte A. McINTYRE, 5th Pioneer Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 1 January 1919: 'Burr Cross Road near Zillebeke [;] killed near Hell fire (sic) corner just in front of Howitzer Battery, by a piece of shell [that] took [the] top ofhis head off. I saw his grave just near where [he was] killed. An artillery man buried him, bit of wood stuck with his disc on it when I saw it.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, JOHNSON James Schoular
Red Cross File No 1450112

Print format