Johnston, Rowland Ivan

Johnston, Rowland Ivan (Ivan)

Second Lieutenant

2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles attached

 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Wednesday 28 August 1918 (aged 33)


Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France (Grave II F 11)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Royal Belfast Golf Club

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Royal Ulster Yacht Club, Bangor

North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque (includes those members of the Club who played Rugby Football)


Rowland Ivan Johnston was born on 21 September 1885 in Jordanstown and he was a son of Samuel Alexander Johnston and Agnes Cowan Johnston (nee Barbour) who were married on 3 August 1869 in Belfast.

The Johnston family lived in Lambeg, Bangor, Craigavad and at Dalriada, Whiteabbey, Co Antrim.

Samuel Alexander Johnston owned a flax mill and he and Agnes had at least seven children:

Esther Ruth (born 19 May 1876 at The Fort, Lambeg)

Philip (born 6 June 1877 at Ballyholme, Bangor)

Agnes Louise (Lola, born 25 February 1879 at Dufferin Villas, Ballyholme, Bangor)

Ida (born around 1880 in Belfast)

Mabel Olive (born 30 December 1881 in Craigavad)

Edith Caroline (born 9 December 1883 in Jordanstown)

Rowland Ivan (born 21 September 1885 in Jordanstown)

Rowland Ivan Johnston attended Loretto School in Edinburgh from October 1897 to December 1898 and from there he went to Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

In 1911 Rowland Ivan Johnston described his occupation as flax mill owner and he was a member of Masonic Lodge 282, Carrickfergus.

Rowland Ivan Johnston went to Canada on 27 July 1912 where he and his wife, Susan May Johnston, lived in Fenwick, Ontario.  They returned from Canada to Ireland and he enlisted as a Sapper (No. 2425) in the Royal Engineers on 9 April 1915. It was recorded in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 10¼ inches tall and his occupation was an automobile mechanic.  He was Church of Ireland and his address was Jennymount Mills, York Road, Belfast.

Sapper Rowland Ivan Johnston was posted to the British Expeditionary Force and he joined the South Midland Royal Engineers from 4th/1st South Midland Field Company on 11 December 1915. Having applied for a commission, he transferred back to England on 6 January 1917. He was gazetted to 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on 30 May 1917 and re-joined the British Expeditionary Force.

Second Lieutenant Rowland Ivan Johnston was wounded on 24 August 1918 while serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and was admitted to No.110 Field Ambulance. The following day he was transferred to No. 62 Casualty Clearing Station where ‘the entry wound over spine of left scapula was excised and enlarged. Scapula found severely comminuted. Several loose fragments of bone removed.’

Second Lieutenant Rowland Ivan Johnston was admitted to No.8 Red Cross Hospital at Boulogne on 27 August 1918 where he was examined by Major W. Ashdowne, RAMC: ‘Vomiting, jaundice and collapse on admission. Vomiting persists. Wounds on left back clean. Right back, chest unhealthy small wound. Chest – right chest – breath sounds absent. Heart displaced to right. Collapsed right lung. Left air entry poor. Urgent dyspnoea. Collapse marked. Pulse rapid and weak.’

Second Lieutenant Rowland Ivan Johnston was 33 when he died at 5.10 am on 28 August 1918 and he was buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery (situated on the outskirts of Boulogne, this cemetery was begun in June 1918 and was used chiefly for burials from base hospitals in the area; other graves from isolated sites were brought in and the cemetery now contains more than 4,400 Commonwealth burials of the First World War).

The list of effects sent to his father included a tube of brilliantine and the book Songs of a Sourdough.

Rowland Ivan Johnston had been a member of Royal Belfast Golf Club, Holywood and Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, Holywood.  It was reported in the 5 September 1918 edition of the Irish Times that he was ‘a splendid all-round athlete and a member of the North of Ireland Football Club’.

Second Lieutenant Rowland Ivan Johnston’s widow, Susan May Johnston, was living at The Quoile, Downpatrick, Co. Down on 3 December when she applied for a pension.

Second Lieutenant Rowland Ivan Johnston is commemorated on the Memorial Plaques in Royal Belfast Golf Club; the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque (includes those members of the Club who played Rugby Football).

[The North of Ireland Football Club (members played Rugby Football as opposed to Soccer) was founded by members of the North of Ireland Cricket Club and the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque commemorates members of both Clubs.  Members of the Football Club were also members of the Cricket Club but not all members of the Cricket Club were members of the Football Club.]