JOHNSON, Arthur David
(Service number 47147)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 25 June 1886 Place of Birth Fairview, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 13 February 1917 Age 31
Address at Enlistment Fairview, Timaru, New Zealand
Occupation Mill owner
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Elizabeth. Johnson (mother), Fairview, Timaru
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 10 1/2 inches tall, weight 168 pounds (76 kgs), chest 36-39 inches, dark complexion, dark brown hair, brown eyes

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation G Company, 25th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship NZ Rifle Brigade
Date 26 April 1917
Transport HMNZT84 SS Turakina
Embarked From wellington, New Zealand Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Campaigns Western Europe
Service Medals 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 17 August 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received on active service

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

10-28 September 1917 - admitted sick to 46th Stationary Hospital Rouen. 14 October 1917 - admitted to 1 Field Ambul;ance with ghun shot wound to right thigh and hand, injury to wrist - transferred to 3 Australian Casulaty Clearing Station - 16 October transferred to 1st Australian General Hospital - 27 November embarked on Hospital Ship St George and admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital Brockenhurst on 28 November. 2 January 1918 - transferred to 2 NZ General Hospital Walton-on-Thames - discharged 17 September 1918. 14-29 November 1918 - admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital - personal problems - discharged to Convalescent Section. 26 March 1919 - admitted to 2 NZ General Hospital Walton-on-Thames - discharged for return NZ on 9 June 1919

Post-war Occupations

Labourer, Mill Owner


Date 17 August 1951 Age 65
Place of Death Timaru, New Zealand
Notices Timaru Herald, 18 August 1951
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 116, Plot 2q Services Section, Row 116, Plot 2
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

One of a large family, Arthur was born at Fairview, South Canterbury, on 25 June 1886. His father William Ambrose (1849-1918) was born in West Dean, Gloucestershire, England, and his mother Elizabeth Audrey (1860-1930, nee Pavey) was born in Australia. They had met and married in New Zealand in 1878. Arthur was educated at the Fairview School where he was first admitted on 25 June 1891. After leaving school he continued working in the Fairview district as a labourer.

Arthur had earlier enlisted for war service in 1916, recording his occupation as mill owner but was not taken into camp until 13 February 1917. By then he was aged 31, single, and described as being 5 foot 10 ½ inches tall, Anglican, single, weighing 168 pounds (76 kgs), chest measuring 36-39 inches, of a dark complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes. His parents were living at Fairview where his father was employed as a mason, and his mother Elizabeth was nominated as his next of kin. Training followed with the NZ Rifle Brigade (NZRB) and he left with G Company, 25th Reinforcements, from Wellington on 26 April 1917. Loaded with infantry reinforcements, the SS Turakina (HMNZT 84) set sail in the company of another troopship, SS Tofua. The 8200 ton Turakina had been requisitioned from NZ Shipping Company and she only made one voyage as a troop ship. Together the two vessels carried 2127 soldiers and crew and the route took in Sydney, Fremantle, Durban, Cape Town and Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. At Durban, teams from the two ships played a rugby game; the Turakina side won 9-3. A month after the Turakina disembarked the troops at Plymouth England, on 20 July 1917; she was sunk by a German U-boat as she steamed to New York from London.

Arthur marched in to Sling Camp where he was posted to A Company, 5th Reinforcement Battalion and after further training, left for France on 6 September 1917. On 10 September he was admitted sick to the 46th Stationary Hospital and discharged back to the Base Depot on 28 September. On 8 October he joined his Battalion and was posted to A Company, 2 NZRB. By now the NZ Division was heavily involved in the Third Battle of Ypres, (or the Battle of Passchendaele), during the first half of October 1917. The conditions were terrible with all the rain and mud. Up the hill from Hanebeke to Bellevue over ten days, nearly 1000 New Zealanders died and 3400 were wounded, one being Rifleman Johnson. Nearby is Tyne Cot, the largest British military cemetery in the world with 11,950 burials including 520 from New Zealand, 322 being unidentified soldiers killed at Passchendaele. On 12 October he was posted as missing in the field but was fortunately found and admitted to 1 Field Ambulance on 14 October then to 3 Australian Casualty Clearance Station the same day suffering from gunshot wounds to the right thigh, finger on right hand and injury to left wrist. On 16 October he was transferred to the 1st Australian General Hospital where he was transferred between the dangerously injured to the seriously injured list several times until finally placed on the dangerously injured list on 31 October. On 3 November 1917 his right leg was amputated along with his ring finger on his right hand. On 27 November he embarked from Rouen on the Hospital Ship St George and was admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst on 28 November.

Further transfer took place on 2 January 1918 to 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton on Thames where he was fitted with an artificial limb. Here he stayed until being discharged to the NZ Motor Transport Depot on 17 September and sent on a course to Guys Motors Works at Wolverhampton. He was withdrawn from the motor course on 14 November when he was admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital with a personal problem until discharge to the Convalescent Section 29 November 1918. He was again admitted to 2 NZ Gen Hospital at Walton on Thames on 26 March 1919. He was given leave from 10 to 31 May before reporting back to hospital. Finally he embarked aboard the Hospital Ship Marama at Southampton on 9 June, arriving back in NZ on 17 July 1919. After having served a total of 2 years and 186 days, he received his discharge from the army on 17 August 1919 as no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action. One family story of his return recalls: “When Arthur Johnson returned from the First World war he greeted his mother with the words (or similar) ‘Here I am mother, at least what is left of me.’” (M Johnson, 2017) For his service Arthur later received the British War Medal and Victory Medal and was granted a war pension of 40 shillings.

Arthur returned to live in the Fairview area. From 1919 to 1928 directories record him as a labourer and later as a mill owner. His family remember Arthur as “... the pivot of the family home at Fairview. He lived there with his sister Lucy and her two sons. Lucy Vincent and her sons moved back to Fairview after her husband and brother were killed in an accident in a well in February 1916 at Otaio. Arthur was a mentor and much loved brother to his youngest sibling Alex and is fondly remembered by Alex’s son Bevan Johnson.” (M Johnson, 2017).

Arthur died aged 65 at Timaru on 17 August 1951, and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery, Services Section.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [June 2017]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; Assorted records at [June 2017]; Timaru District Counnil cemetery records at; 'Casulaties' in the Sun 6 November 1917 p9 and 'Personal Items' [admission to hospital] in the Timaru Herald 18 March 1918 p7, courtesy fo Papers Past at; SCroll submissions by M Johnson, 18 October 2017 (and also SC Museum L2017/012)

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available.

Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG; Tony Rippin, South Canterbury Museum

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB