No. 1477283, 5 Battery, 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died as the result of an accident on Wednesday 10 June 1942 (aged 27)
Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya (Grave 2. E. 13)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Brother-in-law of Lance Bombardier Edward James Flynn
Harold Johnston was born on 23 November 1914 in the townland of Ballyalton, Newtownards and he was the eldest son of Samuel and Margaret Elizabeth (Lizzie) Johnston (nee Dominick, sometimes Domegan) who were married on 18th February 1914 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). Samuel Johnston, a quarry manager from Ballyalton was a son of Samuel Johnston, a van man. Margaret Elizabeth Dominick (aged 20) from Newtownards was a daughter of William Dominick, a farmer.
The Johnston family lived in Cairn View Villa, Ballybarnes Road, Killearn, Newtownards and they had at least three children:
Harold (born 23 November 1914 in Ballyalton, Newtownards)
Rebecca (Ruby, born 27 August 1917 in William Street Place, Newtownards; Ruby’s marriage to Joseph Kelly was registered in the fourth quarter of 1944 in Oldbury, Worcestershire; Joseph and Ruby Kelly lived in Birmingham before moving to Bennykerry in County Carlow)
William (Billy, born 30 March 1919 in William Street Place, Newtownards)
Harold Johnston (aged 22) and Mary Robina Flynn (aged 21, daughter of Edward Flynn) both from Marquis Street, Newtownards were married on 24 August 1934 in Newtownards Registrar’s Office. They had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, and they lived at 15 Belfast Road, Bangor.
Harold’s brother, William (Billy) Johnston, was a Sergeant in the Irish Guards.
Harold Johnston’s death in No. 62 General Hospital, Middle East as the result of an accidental gunshot wound was reported in the 27 June 1942 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle. He died as the result of a misfire caused by a defective round in his own weapon. On Thursday 18 June (eight days after Harold died) his wife received ‘a cheerful letter’ from him and the following Monday she received a telegram announcing his death. Ten days after Harold Johnston died, his brother-in-law, Lance Bombardier Edward James Flynn (No. 1473912) of 15 Belfast Road, Bangor was killed in action at Tobruk.
Various members of Harold Johnston’s family placed Killed in Action notices in the local press in 1942 and Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in subsequent years. Specifically mentioned by name in these notices were his wife and daughter, his parents, his parents-in-law, his sister Ruby and his brother and sister-in-law Billy and Ena Johnston of 180 Greenwell Street, Newtownards and later 65 Brunswick Road, Bangor. In the 1943 notice there was a verse:
If we could only see the grave
Where you are laid to rest,
But God some day will join your hands
With those who loved you best.
As it dawns another year,
Memory brings you to our side;
God has promised we shall meet you,
Where the tears of earth are dried.
You are standing near in memory,
And the month of June is here,
How I think of that sad message,
I had lost a brother dear.
His dear face is ever before us,
His voice we can never forget,
In vain we have watched for his coming,
In memory we still see him yet.
We see his pals returning,
And shed a silent tear;
We know he is not with them,
But to memory ever dear.
Today I am thinking of Harold,
And his grave o’er the ocean wide.
How I recall the happy hours
Spent around the home fireside.
The years are swiftly passing
I know the tears are vain,
I know the brother whom I loved
Shall not return again.
Never shall his memory fade,
A loving Pal and Brother.
Loving father, true and kind,
Missed by those he left behind;
Forget him, no, I never will,
As years roll on I love him still.
Bombardier Harold Johnston (No. 1477283) was 27 when he died, and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.