Sergeant Bertram Joseph Johnson (830030)

'C' Bty, 311st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

Malvern Commemoration: Holy Trinity North Malvern,

Burial/Commemoration: Etaples Military Cemetery

Nature of Death: Died of wounds Etaples, France 6/5/1917

Age: 28

Next of Kin: Son of Joseph and Mrs A Johnson of Appleton, Chester Place, Queens Road, Malvern Link

Previous Employment: At Messrs W & F Webb, Worcester

Bertram Joseph Johnson

Early years

Bertram Johnson was born in 1889, the son of Joseph Johnson, a cabinet maker and his wife Agnes.  They lived at Salopian Cottage, North Malvern.  Bertram was christened at Holy Trinity, North Malvern on 25th January 1889.  Joseph and Agnes appear to have moved around judging by the birth locations of the children – their eldest child was born in Leigh and the following two were born in Birmingham.  On the 1901 Census they were living at Salvatori on Cowleigh Road.

Sometime after 1906 the Johnson family moved to Worcester, living at 52 McIntyre Street.  By 1911 Bertram was upholsterer for the same house furnisher that his father was employed by. 

A Territorial gunner

Bertram joined the 2nd Worcester Battery of 2nd South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery at Malvern on 15th June 1908; shortly after the formation of the Territorial Force in April.  At this time 

In October 1914 he was posted to the newly formed second line unit, becoming the 2nd/2nd South Midland Brigade.  He was promoted Cpl on 30th October 1915 and acting Sergeant shortly before proceeding overseas.

He landed in France on 20th May 1916 and subsequently was posted to 308 Brigade RFA.  

In June 1916 his terms of engagement expired, but the Military Service Act now meant that he did not have to choice to re-engage or not he simply “continued in the service.” He was among parties from the brigade to go Annequin to be attached to 33rd Divisional Artillery for introduction to front line duties and then the unit went into action supporting the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.

On 26 January 1917, 308 Brigade unit was broken up and its batteries dispersed to other brigades in 61st Division and to various Army Field Artillery brigades.  Bert’s battery became ‘C’ Battery of 311 Army Field Brigade.

At the beginning of May, 311 Brigade was supporting attacks of the 63rd (Royal Naval) and 31st Divisions.  Bert was wounded in action on 2nd May 1917, receiving a gun shot wound to the face.  He was treated at 95th Field Ambulance and then transferred to 24 General Hospital, Etaples.  A telegram was sent to his mother stating that Bertram was lying dangerously ill, but sadly he died on 6th May..  

In May 1917, the Malvern News reported: “Sgt Bertram Johnson, RFA, the third son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Johnson, Chester Place has died of gun shot wounds on the 6th May. He was 28 and unmarried. Before the war he was employed at Messrs W and F Webb, Worcester.”

His father Joseph Johnson, who had been a member of the volunteer artillery and later territorial artillery, served as an instructor during the war and died in July 1917.

Malvern Holy Trinity Parish Registers 1869-1889
1911 Census
Malvern News 26/5/1917
War Diary of 311 Bde RFA.

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