JOHNSTONE, James Fowler Kellas
(Service number 57638)

First Rank Gunner Last Rank


Date 26 March 1894 Place of Birth London, England, or Aberdeen, Scotland

Enlistment Information

Date 21 May 1917 Age
Address at Enlistment St Andrews, South Canterbury
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mr A. M. PATERSON (brother-in-law), Abattoir House, Timaru
Religion Church of England
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 36th Reinforcements, Field Artillery
Date 23 April 1918
Transport Willochra
Embarked From Wellington Destination Southampton, Hampshire, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 25 April 1919 Reason On termination of period of Engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date Age
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James Fowler Kellas Johnstone was born on 26 March 1894 at Aberdeen or London. His war attestation states Aberdeen, as does that of his brother, Alexander McConachie Johnstone. While no birth registration for either has been identified in England, on the 1901 census, when they are with their parents, their place of birth is given as London. And in 1911, when James is a visitor in a household, his birthplace is recorded as Kensington, London. What is known is that James Fowler Kellas Johnstone was the son of James Fowler Kellas Johnstone of Aberdeen, who spent a considerable portion of his life (1846-1928) in England, and of Annie Cook (Annie Maria Elizabeth, née Holden). Annie, who was born in Natal, South Africa, had married William Augustine Cook in 1873. William Cook petitioned for divorce in 1891, citing James Fowler Kellas Johnstone as co-respondent. It is said that Annie began living with James F. K. Johnstone at Salford, Lancashire, in 1888. In 1891 Annie is recorded as Johnstone, the wife of James F. K. Johnston, the family living in London. Also with them are Barbara Johnstone (Annie Barbara, daughter of Annie and James, it appears), Dallas Johnstone (daughter), and three Cook step-children. In 1901 James Johnstone is still in London, but widowed. With him are Janet C. Johnstone, a daughter from his first marriage, and three children born to Annie – Dallas K. Johnstone (f.), James F. Johnstone, and Alexander M. Johnstone. Annie Marie Elizabeth Cook died in August 1898 in Lambeth, London and was buried on 30 August in Lambeth Cemetery. Jessie Adamson Cockburn Johnstone, the first wife of James Fowler Kellas Johnstone, died in August 1881 and was buried at Springbank Cemetery, Aberdeen, where James joined her in 1928.

James Fowler Kellas Johnstone, junior, was baptised as an adult on 4 December 1910 at St Mark’s, Battersea, London. He was the son of James Fowler Kellas and Annie Johnstone. Seven-year-old Kellas Johnstone was admitted to Henry Fawcett School in London on 23 September 1901. He gained matriculation. Dallas and her brother Alexander, both teachers, left London by the “Ionic” on 2 June 1910 for New Zealand. Dallas lived in Wellington till 1980, unmarried, and was buried at Makara Cemetery, Wellington. Alec served in the war and lost his life at Gallipoli. James, junior, was still in England in 1911, a clerk, visiting at Battersea, London.

James Fowler Kellas Johnstone (Kellas was his paternal grandmother’s birth name) enlisted with the New Zealand Forces on 21 May 1917 at Timaru. He had been in New Zealand for two years. His address was St Andrews, South Canterbury, where he was a farmer. In 1917 his name was drawn in a ballot, and he was called up. On the 1916 Reserve Roll, he was listed as a farm labourer at Richmond, via Lake Tekapo. He named his brother-in-law as next-of-kin – Mr A. M. Paterson, Abbattoir House, Timaru. Margaret Shearer Johnstone, a much older half-sister of James, married Alexander McLean Paterson, a veterinary surgeon, in Scotland. Margaret and Alexander had come to New Zealand with two sons between 1901 and 1905. A third son was born in New Zealand. For many years they lived in Timaru, both Margaret and Alexander dying there, and their three sons. Gunner J. F. K. Johnstone embarked with the Field Artillery of the 36th Reinforcements, leaving Wellington fo Southampton, England, per the “Willochra”. J. F. K. Johnstone, 57638, of Timaru, embarked at Liverpool on 7 February 1919, for the return to New Zealand by the “Ajana” (Draft 224), which was due to reach Auckland on 26 March 1919. He was discharged on 25 April 1919 on the termination of his period of engagement. In 1919 he was a schoolmaster at Port Craig, Southland. In July 1920, the Southland Education Board appointed J. F. K. Johnstone as temporary sole teacher at Gra..ty. He gained a pass, or partial pass, in the examinations for teachers’ certificates held in August 1922 at Invercargill. On 24 October 1922 at Gore, he attested for General Service in New Zealand with the Territorial Force.

The New Zealand Gazette of 26 July 1923 notified that the appointment (on probation) of 2nd Lieutenant J. F. K. Johnstone (Southland Regiment, 2nd C. Battalion) had lapsed on 6 July 1923. Thus read the cable of 6 July 1923 -

Re – 2/Lieut. (On Prob.) James Fowler Kellas JOHNSTONE.

The above-named Officer who was appointed to 8th (Cadet) Battalion Otago Regiment as from 8th November 1922 (vide Gazette 89/22) has been away from Mataura for some months and his whereabouts are at present unknown. He left his position as a teacher at Mataura school without notice and has not been heard of since.

In view of the face [sic] that there is no uniform on issue to him and that there appears to be but little chance of his return to this R. D., it is recommended that his appointment be cancelled under the provisions of Sec. 5a Defence Act 1909. Where did he go?

James’ younger brother, Alexander McConochie Johnstone (Alec), also served with the New Zealand Forces (7/72), being killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915.



Dr Johnson, seeing his dictionary completed, felt a special pride that such a work as in other countries had required the labour of whole academies had been performed by him singlehanded. The first volume of a work which wakes a comparable wonder as a monument of the industry of a single man has just reached Dunedin. Bearing the title ‘Bibliographia Aberdonensis,’ it aspires to be a record of all the books related to or printed in the shires of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine, or written by natives or residents of them, or by graduates of Aberdeen University, during four and a-half centuries. We say “aspires,” because only the first volume, which covers the period from 1472 to 1640, has yet been printed. The second volume, which carries the register on to 1900, is, however, complete in manuscript, and is expected to be published this year. For seventeen years this most arduous work had been a labour of love of Dr James Fowler Kellas Johnstone, of Aberdeen, working unassisted upon it, and his total labours on the compilation covered a period of fifty-seven years. It was the object dearest to his heart when he died, in September last, in his eighty-first year, just too soon to see the first volume published. (Dr Johnstone was a cousin of Mr G. W. Johnstone, of Dunedin. (More . . .) [Evening Star, 20 July 1929.] This was the father of James Fowler Kellas Johnstone, Alexander McConochie Johnstone, Dallas Kellas Johnstone and Margaret Shearer Kellas Johnstone Paterson, all of whom came to New Zealand.


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Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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