Johnson, William Henry

I believe that William Henry Johnson was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.  ” Family Search” reveal that he was baptized on the 19th December 1883 at St. James Church, in the same town, his father is revealed as John George Johnson, who I believe may have died in 1895 age 47, (Chorlton Vol. 8c Page 640) and also believe that his mother may have married Charles (Charley) Littleton in the same quarter of 1895 (Ashton Vol 8d Page 843).

I find them living at 78 Ash Grove Shotton, Flintshire on the 1911 census, William Henry Johnson had married Rachel, named in his Army papers.   Head of the household was Charley Littleton, 50, an Ironworker at Summers Steelworks who had been born in Liverpool.   His wife, Elizabeth Littleton, William Henry’s mother, 47, born in Ashton, Lancashire, tells us that 6 children had been born in her marriage of 15 years, but sadly only 1 child survived.   This child, I also believe, is Alice Ann Littleton age 9 who had been born in Flint.   Looking back into Elizabeth’s family, she had a brother William Henry and also a sister Alice Ann, who may have died before her 1st birthday, so perhaps that is why these names are seen more than once, Elizabeth obviously loved them.   William Henry Johnson, 27, an Ironworker at the above works, had been born, like his mother, in Ashton-under-Lyne, he had been married to Rachel, 25, for 5 years, no children had been born, she had been born in Flint.  William Henry’s brother Amos Johnson, 22, an Ironworker had been born in Ashton-under-Lyne.   There were 2 boarders, a married couple, James and Polly Jarvis, both born in Staffordshire.

Looking back into the 1901 census I find them living in Queen Street, Flint., Charley Littleton, 40 was an Ironworker born in Liverpool, Elizabeth Littleton was 37 and her 2 sons, William Henry Johnson, 17, an Ironworker had been born in Ashton, like his mother .   Amos Johnson, 12 had been born in Waterloo, Lancashire.

William Henry Johnson in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 which now tells us the name of his widow, – Rachel – and she was the Sole Legatee and was paid £2. 1s 10d on the 24th May 1917 and his War Gratuity of £9. 10s 0d on the 10th November 1919.

There is a Flintshire WW1 Index Card for William Henry Johnson in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the County Record Office in Hawarden. (Flintshire WW1 Index Cards 1916 F31) It gives the address 80, Ash Grove, Shotton, Flintshire and the regimental details that appear at the top of this page. It adds that he served from the 20th August 1914. The card says that he died on the 19th November 1916  (while a Prisoner of War in Germany) from Grenade wounds on his left thigh which caused blood poisoning.   It says on the card that his widow was residing at 3, Commercial Road, Flint. The card was signed on the  20th April 1920 by William Michael Fitzpatrick

UK Soldiers Who Died in The Great War 1914-19 accessible on confirms the regimental details above and tells us that he was born in Hurst Lancashire and that he enlisted in Shotton. It confirms that he Died of Wounds.

William Henry’s medal card also accessible on ancestry, records his medal details and also tells us that his first theatre of war was France and that he entered it on 28th June 1915.

I asked questions on The Great War Forum, about the way that William Henry died as a ‘Prisoner of War’ and had a number of helpful replies. This is a summary of them.

Royal Welsh Fusiliers war diaries confirm that he was reported wounded and missing on the 13th November 1916  in the Battle of Ancre. (The 10th Bn of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers suffered many casualties on that day). He probably died behind enemy lines and was buried in a German cemetery.

He was only ‘a prisoner’ for 6 days. This was behind enemy lines in the field in France/Flanders and not an actual prisoner of war camp and not in Germany.

He final burial place was  Ontario Cemetery, Sains-les-Marquion.  This cemetery was created in September/October 1918 and contains the graves of men who were originally buried as prisoners of war in a number of German cemeteries in the area.

William Henry was named on one other memorial – The memorial screen at St Ethelwold’s Church. Somebody made an effort to ensure he was remembered.


William Henry Johnson is also named on the Flint memorial. Follow the link to see his page there.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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