No. 6359, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Sunday 9 May 1915 (aged 25)
No known grave
Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium (Panel 9)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
Uncle of Rifleman Robert Johnston (No. 6728)
In some records his surname is spelt Johnstone.
Robert Johnston is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial as Robert Johnstone Sen.
Robert Johnston was born on 15 June 1889 in Church Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Robert Johnston and Ann Baxter were married on 2 August 1877 in Shankill Parish Church of Ireland Church Lurgan. Robert Johnston, a tinsmith from Lurgan was a son of John Johnston, a tinsmith. Ann Baxter from Lurgan was a daughter of John Baxter, a tinsmith.
Robert and Ann (sometimes Anne, sometimes Nancy, sometimes Agnes) Johnston (nee Baxter) had at least nine children:
John (born 5 April 1873 in the townland of Newcastle, Portaferry); mother Nancy
Margaret (born 23 June 1875 in Glastry, Kircubbin); mother Nancy
James (born 9 June 1879 in Glastry, Kircubbin); mother Ann
Esther (born 17 September 1881 in the townland of Newcastle, Portaferry); mother Ann
Mary (born 22 December 1883 in Portaferry); mother Ann
Andrew (born 11 June 1887 in Portaferry; died of measles 8 October 1888); mother Ann
Robert (born 15 June 1889 in Church Street, Newtownards); mother Agnes
Daniel (sometimes Dennis, born 30 January 1892 in South Street, Newtownards); mother Agnes
Andrew (born 6 July 1894 in South Street, Newtownards); mother Agnes
James Johnston (son of Robert and Agnes Johnston), a tinsmith from Glastry, Kircubbin, enlisted in Belfast on 18 July 1889 and he served with the Royal Irish Rifles (No. 5171) in South Africa and India. It was noted at attestation that he was 5 feet 9 inches tall with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He had eight scars on his back and several on his legs. He was discharged from the Army on 14 January 1908 after 10 years and 183 days service.
Robert Johnston (son of Robert and Agnes Johnston), a tinsmith from Newtownards, enlisted in Portadown on 1 January 1906 and he served with the Royal Irish Rifles (No. 8109). It was noted at attestation that he was 5 feet 6 inches tall with a sallow complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He declared that he was 18 years old when in fact he was just 16 years old. He was discharged from the Army on 12 April 1906 after 102 days of service ‘having made a misstatement as to age on enlistment’. In 1906 his parents were living at 59 Woodhouse Street, Portadown.
Robert Johnston and Isabella Spence were married on 3 June 1909 in Holy Trinity Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Robert Johnston, a tinsmith from 39 McTier Street, Belfast was a son of Robert Johnston, a tinsmith. Isabella Spence from 42 McTier Street, Belfast was a daughter of John Spence, a labourer. Robert’s sister Esther Johnston and his brother Daniel Johnston were their witnesses.
Robert and Isabella (Bella) Johnston (nee Spence) had three children including:
Mary (born 5 May 1910 in the Maternity Hospital, Belfast)
Maggie (born 17 June 1914 at 51 Urney Street, Belfast)
At the beginning of the Great War Robert Johnston was living at 51 Urney Street, Belfast when he enlisted in Newtownards and he served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 6359).
Lance Corporal Robert Johnston (No. 6359) and his nephew Rifleman Robert Johnston (No. 6728) both served in the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and they both died on the same day at Rouge Bancs. Their bodies were never recovered, and they are both commemorated on the same panel of the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium and on Newtownards and District War Memorial – as Robert Johnstone Sen and Robert Johnstone Jun respectively.
Robert Johnston Senior is also commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 301). He left a widow and three children.