JOHNSTONE, Anthony James
(Service number 7/71)

Aliases Known as Jimmie, Jim. Born Anthony James JOHNSON.
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Sergeant


Date 14 May 1889 Place of Birth Geraldine

Enlistment Information

Date 13 August 1914 Age 25 years 4 months
Address at Enlistment Geraldine
Occupation Butcher
Previous Military Experience Geraldine Rifle Volunteers - discharged as completed 5 years service
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin William JOHNSTONE (brother), Hawera
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Chest measurement 35-37½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes light brown. Hair brown. Sight and hearing both normal. Colour vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. Bo slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Tahiti or Athenic
Embarked From Lyttelton, Canterbury Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Army Service Corps

Military Awards

Service Medals 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 16 June 1919 Reason The termination of his period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

17 November 1915 admitted to hospital. 21 January 1916 admitted to hospital at Cairo. 13 July 1916 admitted to No 1 Australian General Hospital at Rouen, sick.

Post-war Occupations

Carter, farmer


Date 15 July 1959 Age 70 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Memorial or Cemetery Geraldine Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 504, Plot 2
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Anthony James Johnstone, known as Jim or Jimmie, was born Anthony James Johnson on 14 May 1889 at Geraldine, the second child and elder son of Norwegian-born Anton Johnson and his wife, Elizabeth Sophia Valentine née Crafer. In February 1889 his father, Anton, offered for sale his “compact and handy little farm” situated close to the Geraldine Saleyards, as he was leaving the colony. Anton, however, was listed in the 1890 electoral roll and subsequently died, in December 1891, and is buried in the Geraldine Cemetery. A. Johnstone’s next-of-kin in 1914 was a brother, William Johnstone, of Hawera – William Arthur Johnson, whose address was unknown in 1920, and at his death in 1959, Mrs C. Laing, 33A Salonika Street, Whakatane – his sister Mary Evelina née Johnson.

Jim was a member of the Geraldine football team which played for the President’s Trophy in the seven-a-side tournament held on 24 May 1907. He was again named in a Geraldine team in June 1911, to play against Star-Pirates. In 1910 he is found participating in cycling events – in the 440 yards cash handicap (with a very small handicap) at the Temuka sports and with a much bigger handicap (35 minutes) in the Timaru to Christchurch road race.

Before enlistment, Anthony was living at the Crown Hotel in Geraldine and working as a carter, probably for Morrison Brothers at Geraldine, yet on his personnel record he gives his occupation as butcher for Mr J. H. Rule, Geraldine. He had already completed five years with the Geraldine Rifle Volunteers, and it was with many of his fellow Volunteers that he left New Zealand.

He was amongst the first to volunteer, being one of the additional men passed and sworn in on the night of 13 August 1914 at Timaru. The next morning, 14 August, they were to fall in at the Drill Shed at 9.30 and leave Timaru at 1.30 for the camp at Addington. They were to be photographed prior to leaving. The Stipendiary Magistrate very kindly sent a big bundle of literature and some packs of playing cards for the use of the troops and another gentleman gave magazines, all of which were appreciated. Mr T. G. Towley, dentist, was also thanked for attending to the teeth of the men, free of charge, and doing all that was possible for all those whose teeth required attention. A. J. Johnstone’s teeth were only fair, but otherwise he was in fit and in good condition. Mr Hanson Gould, carrier offered to do any carting and on 13 August his services were requisitioned for carting fodder, etc.

Jim was at the smoke concert hastily arranged to entertain the men about to leave Geraldine in mid August 1914. The Mayor said it was pleasing to see “that New Zealand was doing her share in upholding the Empire, and it was very good to see their own young fellows volunteering.” He had noticed that it was the most quiet and even tempered who were the first to volunteer and they showed that their patriotism was deeper than the singing of songs. Jim Johnstone was one to respond, expressing gratitude to the ladies for providing them with comforts. The next morning there was a large gathering to see “The Boys” off, amidst band music and hearty cheers.

After being instructed to muster on the Show Grounds on 15 August for final inspection, Anthony James (J. Johnstone) actually departed with the Mounted Men by the slow train from Timaru on 17 August 1914, amidst much excitement in the town; Meanwhile their horses were trucked at the Smithfield siding, Waimataitai. The Mayor spoke of the pride in them and said that they were going forward “with stout hearts and strong arms”. "Be true lads to your King and Empire, to yourselves and your country, and put your trust in God," he said. At the Addington concentration camp the men had a strenuous time – physical drill at 6.45am, and a lot of outfitting, overhauling gear, saddler, etc, and generally making things look smart and efficient.

Embarking on 16 October 1914 at Lyttelton, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles men headed for Egypt and reached Alexandria on 3 December. Much of Jim’s service was in France where he had gone in April 1916. On 17 November 1915 he was admitted to hospital; and again on 21 January 1916 at Cairo. On 13 July 1916 he was admitted to No 1 Australian General Hospital at Rouen, sick, and rejoined his unit ten days later.

In March 1915 Jim was transferred from trooper to driver. On 12 September 1915 he was appointed lance-corporal; on 23 March 1916 he was promoted to corporal, and on 11 August 1918 promoted to the rank of sergeant. In March 1916 at Rouen Jim was appointed baker at No. 1 Field Bakery, which position he relinquished three months later, only to be reappointed the following week for another six weeks. In August 1917 he spent a few days on escort duty, before rejoining the Bakery. In November 1917 he had two weeks leave in the UK. After his promotion to sergeant he was transferred to the Army Service Corps and attached to the New Zealand Field Ambulance.

Sergeant A. J. Johnstone embarked for the return to New Zealand on the “Carpentaria” on 19 May 1919. This Draft 247 was due at Lyttelton on 17 May. He took up his abode again at Geraldine and went into a bakery business then took up farming for some years, before moving to the Tuarangi Home at Ashburton and lastly to Christchurch.

After 4 years 309 days of service in World War I, all but 92 days abroad, he was discharged on 16 June 1919. For his service for the duration of the war, he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

In Geraldine, both before and after the war, he was a keen bandsman and a few years before his death was elected a life member of the Geraldine District Band. At the band’s annual meeting in 1915, it was noted that the band had lost seven members who had joined the forces, among them Librarian Johnstone. In his letter of December 1914 to the Mayor of Geraldine, Trooper B. G. Edwards gave news of the Geraldine men. Of Jim Johnstone he had this to say – “Getting transferred to the 2nd Infantry Regiment, and will be in our band, which is the attraction.”

He also served for a number of years as a member of the Geraldine Volunteer Fire Brigade. From his obituary (Timaru Herald, 24 May 1959) – “As a market gardener and keen horticulturist, Mr Johnstone cultivated a large section in Raukapika and was a successful exhibiter at shows for many years. He won the cup at the Temuka and Geraldine A. and P. Association’s annual shows outright in the vegetable section.” In December 1914 the Geraldine Horticultural Society decided that its rose show would be in aid of the Patriotic Provident Fund for Geraldine men at the front.

Mr Johnstone was a kindly, active member of the community who was popular with children and loved by them all.

He died at Christchurch on 15 July 1959, aged 70 years, and is buried in a serviceman’s plot in the Geraldine Cemetery. Representatives of the Geraldine District Band, former members of the Geraldine Volunteer Fire Brigade, and members of the Geraldine R.S.A. paid their respects at his funeral.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [13 September 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0061331) [28 April 2015]; headstone image Geraldine Cemetery (Timaru District Council) [13 September 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [13 September 2014; 08 May 2016]; Timaru Herald, 9 & 18 February 1889, 24 May 1907, 26 March 1910, 16 August 1910, 8 June 1911, 14 August 1914 [x 2], 15, 17 & 18 August 1914, 4 & 31 December 1914, 10 May 1915, Ashburton Guardian, 14 August 1914, Star, 18 August 1914, Press, 24 August 1914, Hawera & Normanby Star, 5 May 1919, Taranaki Daily News, 5 May 1919 (Papers Past) [12 September 2014; 02 October 2015; 07, 08 & 09 May 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [08 May 2016]; Timaru Herald, 17 & 24 July 1959 (Timaru District Library) [09 May 2016]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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