William Johnson was born on 21 December 1894 at 2 Pound Street, Thame, Oxfordshire. His father was William, a general labourer and his mother was Nora Johnson (late Williams, formerly Shaughnessy (source Birth Certificate). William was a twin - his twin sister was Nellie, though when his father completed the 1911 census form he got his daughters' names mixed up!
According to family, his full name was William Thomas A'Beckett Aloysius Johnson - but to date, I havent found any written corroboration of this!
In the 1911 census, young 'Willie' was listed as a printer's labourer, but all that would change with the announcement of the Great War ... on 25th August 1914, young Willie went to London where he enlisted in the Royal Marines. His physical description was height 5'7 and 3/10" (very precise!) with a fresh complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and a tattoo on his left forearm showing crossed hands and 'friendship'.
After spending nearly three months in the new recruit depot at Deal, on 20 Nov 1914 he was posted to the Royal Marine Brigade (Portsmouth Division). In early February, the Brigade sailed on the 'Braemar Castle' for the Mediterranean, arriving in the Dardanelles at the end of February. Bill's unit fought in the Gallipoli campaign from 28 april to the 25 nov 1815 - he received a bullet wound in the right cheek on 15 July 1915. (source: W Johnson Service Record and 'The Long Long Trail' website)
Bill remained with the Portsmouth Division of the Marines until mid August 1916, when he was posted on the Kildonan Castle, an armed merchant cruiser, under the command of Captain John F Warton. This ship spent the remainder of the war patrolling the north Atlantic. Then from Feb 1919 to Jan 1920 he served under Commander Arthur Douglas Barrow on the 'Terror' before being demobbed on 16 jan 1920 - but after three days he signed up in the Reserves for a period of five years - transferring to Plymouth Division when the family moved down to South Wales. Throughout his service Bill was assessed as "Very Good"
Somehow, amongst all this activity, Bill managed to meet and marry Kathleen DEARL - the couple married on 7th September 1919 at St John's Church in Clontarf. Bill and Kath spent the first year of their married life in Headington, Oxford but then moved to Blodwen Street in Port Talbot, South Wales, where Bill was employed as an engine driver at Treherbert and then Duffryn Yard - where he worked for 48 years. He was an outstanding cricketer and played for the Port Talbot Railway Team, and was for many years chairman and trainer of the Duffryn Yard soccer team.
Bill Johnson died on 19th January 1968, aged 72 years, and was buried at the Goytre Cemetery above Port Talbot.
the JOHNSON family in the census:
In the 1901 census, living at 6 Caroline Terrace, Oxford:
William Johnson, head, 35, bricklayer's lab, born Towersey
Norah Johnson, wife, 41, born Ireland
John Williams, son, 13, printer's appr, b. Warwick
William Johnson, son, 6, born Thame
Nellie Johnson, dau, 6, born Thame
George Johnson, son, 3, born Thame
in the 1911 census, living at 6 Bath Cottages, Headington, Oxford:
William Johnson, head, 50, labourer general, born Thame
Nora Johnson, wife, 56, laundress, b. Waterford, Ireland
Willie Johnson, son, 15, printer's lab, b. Thame
Eileen Johnson, dau, 15 gen servant, b. Thame
George Johnson, son, 13, school, b. Thame
Nellie Johnson, dau, 7, school, b. Thame
in the 1939 Register at 25 Blodwen St, Port Talbot, Glamorgan:
William Johnson, mar, born 1894, Locomotive engineer
Kathleen M Johnson, mar, born 1897, unpaid domestic duties
Thomas W Johnson, single, born 1922, seeking work
Christopher Johnson, single, born 1934, school
Jack B Johnson, single born 1937, below school age
Bill and Kath Johnson in Blodwen Street, with four of their grandchildren
Bill and Kath on a trip to London with their youngest son Brian to visit their married daughter Annie (with her younger son) pictured in Trafalgar Square.
Bill and Kath Johnson are buried in the beautiful Goytre Cemetery in the hills above Port Talbot.