Charles Edwin Johnson, Serjeant 27950, 18th Bn. Welsh Regiment
Killed in action 9th April 1918 in France, aged 20
Charles Edwin Johnson was born in Macclesfield on 29 January 1898, the eldest son of Levi Johnson, a photographer of 57 Crompton Rd, Macclesfield, and his wife Mary, daughter of John McCabe.
The family later moved to 18 Brunswick Square, Macclesfield.
Charles volunteered for active service at the age of 16, but was rejected as being under age; he eventually enlisted in the 18th Welsh Regiment after his 17th birthday in January 1915. After training, Charles was drafted overseas in May 1916, serving as a signalling instructor. He was offered a commission in 1917 but preferred to remain with his Signalling Section.
Charles was injured on 23 November 1917 at Bourlon Wood, France, and returned to the front. He was killed in action near Cambrai by the explosion of a large shell on 9 April 1918. His commanding officer wrote: Had he lived, I should have recommended him for decoration. He was an excellent soldier, always keen and taking a great interest in his work of NCO in charge of battalion signals.
Macclesfield Times reported on 3 May 1918 that Charles had been killed:
Mr and Mrs Johnson, 57 Crompton Rd, Macclesfield, have been informed by the battalion chaplain that their son, Signaller Sergt Charles Edwin Johnson, was killed during the recent operations on the Western front, Apr 9-13.
Sergt Johnson was the eldest son of a family of eight and voluntarily enlisted in the 18th Batt Welch Regt immediately after his 17th birthday in January 1915. His training in signalling was received at the Mersey Defence Garrison Signalling School and the School of Signalling, Aldershot, at which latter place he was awarded a first-class certificate qualifying him to act as instructor. His promotion through the successive stages of lance-corporal, corporal and sergeant-instructor was quite phenomenal, he attained the latter rank soon after his 18th birthday. Further advancement was impossible so long as he remained with the signal section, to which he preferred to remain loyal when offered a commission early last year. He had been two years in France and went through some heavy engagements, sustaining a shell wound in the left chest during the retirement from Bourlon Wood on November 23rd last year, when in charge of his section.
Sergt Johnson was educated at the Duke Street School and worshipped at Christ Church. His great-great-grandfather, Thomas Johnson, was a zealous worker in and promoter of the Sunday School which was at one time held in the Silk Street Mill, out of which the Large Sunday School, Roe Street, has grown. The sergeant, who was over on leave for his 20th birthday in January this year, was engaged to a London young lady, and contemplated, upon the conclusion of the war, an early marriage and emigration to Canada.
Sgt Charles Johnson is buried at Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, France, in grave ref. III. A. 2. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sgt Charles Johnson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918 (Find My Past)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 3 May 1918, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)