Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Richard Johnson

Serial Number and Rank:  2660, Private
Birth:  1886 Batemans Bay, Bap: 6 Jan 1887 Aboriginal camp Ulladulla RC Rities
Parents:  Donald Johnson and Mary (Polly – Dolly) O’Brien. Both Aboriginal
Enlisted:  26 Jun 1916 Kiama, after the death of his first wife and child. Occupation listed as Sawmill hand
Next of Kin:  Mo: Mary Johnson of Currowan near Nelligen
Service:  13th Battalion. RTA April 1919
War Record:  Copy available at Australian National Archives
Honour Rolls:  Milton Town War Memorial
Notes:  Marriage 1: Mabel Stewart, b. 1886 Wallaga Lake, m. 31 Oct 1914 St Peters & St Paul Milton, d. 6 Apr 1916, bu: Sandridge Cemetery CE Mollymook.
Marriage 2: Thomesina Douglas. m. 4 Jan 1919 Edinburgh England
1957 Abode: Belmore NSW.

Richard Johnson was one of 20 indigenous people from the Milton Ulladulla region who served in World War I. He was born at Batemans Bay in 1886, and his family moved to the Ulladulla Aboriginal Camp the following year.

Richard Johnson

He was the son of Donald Johnson and Mary (Dolly) O’Brien, growing up in Ulladulla. Richard married Mabel Stewart from Wallaga Lake at St Peters & St Pauls Milton in 1914. They lived at Bawley Point where Richard worked at the Bawley Point and Kioloa sawmills.

Photo Richard Johnson and other Aboriginal men from Bawley Point and/or Kioloa sawmil

In early 1916 both his wife Mabel and their stillborn child died at Nurse Claydon Private Hospital Milton.

Richard had joined the war as apart of local war census and recruiting that was held at Termeil and its immediate vicinity in March 1916 to 34 eligible men. Those who answered ‘the Call to Arms’ included Charles Lyon Beileiter, James McDonald Backhouse, Charles Beileiter, George Davenport, Richard Johnston, Oswald Horne (Herne), Alexander Heycox, Sydney George Hapgood, Robert Lewis, William George John Page, Peter Gould Young and David Berry Young from the Termeil area and Frederick Smith of Milton. Arthur Samuel Beileiter of Shallow Crossing, Samuel’s younger brother and his mate Frederick Sellick also enlisted at the same time.

Richard enlistment was finalised at Kiama in June 1916 at the age of 32 years, listing his mother Mary Johnson of Currowan near Nelligen as his next of kin.

He left Australia for overseas duty in October 1916, aboard the HMAT Ceramic A40 with the 45 Infantry Battalion. He was later transferred to 13th Battalion serving in both France and Belgium, with the rank of Private. He was wounded in action in May 1918, and was sent to hospital in England where he was declared unfit for active service.

Whilst in England he married Thomesina Douglas at Edinburgh in 1919, returning home in April 1919. Richard was granted the Britain War medal and Victory Medal, his name is featured on the Milton Town War Memorial.

In accordance with traditional laws often followed by Indigenous communities in Australia the mentioning of and photographs of deceased people may offend. Please note in this article there is mention and imagery of Aboriginal people who are deceased.

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