Johnston, Samuel (No. PLY/16981)

Johnston, Samuel


No. PLY/16981, Plymouth Battalion, R.N. Division, Royal Marine Light Infantry

Died of wounds on Monday 14 June 1915 (aged 19)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey (Panel 2 to 7)


Samuel Johnston enlisted on 20 August 1914 in Glasgow and he declared that he was born on 13 March 1896 in Newtownards.  It was noted that he was 5 feet 5⅛ inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair.

Samuel Johnston cited his step-brother, W. Moore, as his next-of-kin and gave his step-brother’s address as 3 Townhead Street, Stevenston, Ayr.

Samuel Johnston stated that he was Presbyterian and that he worked as a surface man.

In naval records, it is recorded that Samuel Johnston was a brother of Agnes Johnston, c/o Archie Lightbody, Ballymaconnell, Bangor, Co Down.

In one naval record it is noted that his ‘brother Stephen’ lived at 3 Townhead Street, Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland.  There is evidence to suggest that this reference to his ‘brother Stephen’ is incorrect and, in fact, relates to his step-brother whose forename begins with ‘W’.

Private Samuel Johnston (No. PLY/16981) served with the Plymouth Battalion, R.N. Division, Royal Marine Light Infantry in the Dardanelles and he was 19 when he died of a bullet wound to the forehead in 2nd (RN) Field Ambulance.

Private Samuel Johnston is commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Gallipoli.

It is difficult to determine Samuel Johnston’s parentage definitively, but the following records provide strong indicative evidence:

His maternal grandparents were Samuel and (Susan) Lightbody (nee Quinn).

Samuel Lightbody worked as a labourer and he and Susanna (Susan) Lightbody (nee Quinn) had at least four children:

Sarah Anne (born 23 June 1865 in Herdstown)

Eliza (Lizzie, born 14 December 1866 in Herdstown)

Archibald (Archie, born 12 September 1871 in Cottown)

Margaret (Maggie, born 8 October 1874 in Cottown)

Their mother, Susan Lightbody, died of bronchitis on 3 July 1909 (aged 71) in Ballymaconnell; her daughter Lizzie was present at her death.

The Lightbody family lived in the townlands of Herdstown, Cottown and Ballymaconnell and, in 1901, the following family members were living in Ballymaconnell:

Samuel and Susanna together with their daughter Lizzie, their son Archibald and their grandchildren Wilhelmina Lightbody (aged 11) and James Lightbody (aged 4).

Wilhelmina Lightbody was a daughter of Sarah Anne Lightbody who worked as a farm/domestic servant and had at least five children:

Catherine (born 1 April 1883 in Ballymaconnell, Bangor)

Wilhelmina (born 6 December 1889 in Ballymaconnell, Bangor)

Mary Sarah (born 21 December 1899 in Cottown)

Samuel Angus (born 22 June 1902 in Ballymaconnell, Bangor)

Jane (born 18 April 1905 in Newtownards Workhouse; her mother was described as ‘an outworker from Ballymaconnell’)

James Lightbody was a son of Maggie Lightbody who worked as a farm servant and had at least one child:

James (born 6 June 1896 in Cottown)

Archie Lightbody and Mary Bryan were married on 6 October 1906 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church; Mary Bryan already had a daughter, Violet Bryan, who was born around 1891/1892.

In 1901 Jane Lightbody, an unmarried seamstress (stated age 37) was living in Thomas Street, Newtownards and, because of her stated age, it is likely that she was born before the introduction of civil birth registration in 1864.  There is evidence to suggest that Jane Lightbody was a daughter of Samuel and Susanna Lightbody.  With Jane Lightbody lived her son Samuel Lightbody (aged 5), her daughter Mary (aged 2) together with John Johnston (aged 35), a boarder.

In 1911 Jane Lightbody (stated age 51) was living in Front Shuttlefield Street, Newtownards and with her lived her sons Samuel (aged 15) and Alexander (aged 10) together with her daughters Mary (aged 13) and Agnes (aged 7) together with John Johnston (aged 46), a boarder.

Civil birth registration records confirm that Jane Lightbody had at least nine children:

Samuel Hugh (born 2 April 1883 in Newtownards Workhouse; died of scrofula 21 February 1886 in Newtownards Workhouse)

William John (born 27 February 1885 in Newtownards Workhouse)

Unnamed Male Child (born 1 August 1889 in Newtownards Workhouse)

Samuel (born 31 December 1891 in Mill Street, Newtownards; died of diarrhoea 18 January 1892 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

James (born 27 October 1893 in Newtownards Workhouse)

Samuel (born 14 March 1896 in Newtownards Workhouse)

Mary (born 23 July 1898 in Tullynagardy)

Alexander (born 13 April 1901 in Thomas Street, Newtownards; his mother was named as Jane Lightbody and his father was named as John Johnston)

Agnes (born 12 February 1904 in Thomas Street, Newtownards; her mother was named as Jane Lightbody and her father was named as John Johnston)

At different times, Jane Lightbody lived in Ballymaconnell; Bangor; Killaughey; Newtownards; Tullynagardy and Thomas Street, Newtownards.

It may be concluded that Private Samuel Johnston (No. PLY/16981) was born on 14 March 1896 (one day later than he declared when he enlisted) and that he was a son of Jane Lightbody.  When his birth was being registered his surname was registered as Lightbody but subsequently he used the surname Johnston.

When Private Samuel Johnston (No. PLY/16981) died on 14 June 1915 his sister Agnes was 11 and she was living at Ballymaconnell with her uncle, Archie Lightbody.