Sergeant Joseph Johnson (16450)

354 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 73rd Division

Malvern Commemoration: Holy Trinity North Malvern,

Burial/Commemoration: St Matthias Churchyard Malvern Link

Nature of Death: Died at Malvern 14/7/1917

Age: 55

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs A Johnson of Appleton, Chester Place, Queens Road and second son of the late John and Anne Johnson of Eastbury, North Malvern

Previous Employment: Cabinet maker

Capbadge of the Royal Artillery


Joseph Johnson was born at North Malvern in 1861, the son of John Johnson, a carpenter and his wife Anne.  He was christened at Holy Trinity Church on 1st June 1861.  He trained as a carpenter.

On 10th April 1883, Joseph married Agnes Ritchings at Holy Trinity Church, Birchfield in the parish of Handsworth, Birmingham.  At the time they were living at Wellington Road, Birchfield.  However, by 1891 they were living back in Malvern Link.

Holy Trinity Church, Birchfield near Birmingham

Holy Trinity Church, Birchfield near Birmingham

Family life

Joseph and Agnes Johnson 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.  Later 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.  

Volunteer Artillery

In June 1879, Joseph joined No 3 Battery, of the Worcestershire Artillery Volunteers based at Malvern.  At this time the battery paraded at the Drill Hall, Clarence Road and had been formed in November 1871. He served a term of five years, and then, presumably around the time he met his wife in Birmingham, he had a break in service.  He rejoined on 3rd July 1888 and was promoted to the rank of Bombardier by 1891.

More details
20-Pounder Armstrong RBL gun and limber

20-Pounder Armstrong RBL gun and limber used by the Volunteer Artillery

Johnson regularly featured in newspaper reports of prize competitions, smoking concerts and dances.  In June 1891 Joseph’s carpentry skills came in handy when he framed an illuminated address to on outgoing battery commander, Captain W Ottley on his promotion to command the Worcestershire Artillery Volunteers.

By 1901, Joseph was a Sergeant, winning £1 1s for prowess in carbine shooting in the Allen Brother’s Challenge Cup competed for amongst the Battery.  However at his own request, he was discharged from the volunteers on 5th June 1902.  This may have coincided with a move to Worcester.

First World War

As an old Volunteer, Joseph felt that he could be of use to the war effort, and joined the Royal Field Artillery on 26th September 1914.  Owing to his age he served at home, latterly with 354 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  This unit was part of the 73rd Division, used for home defence and training. 

Recruits engaged in Physical Training (Swedish Drill) at a Royal Artillery training camp in England.

Recruits engaged in Physical Training (Swedish Drill) at a Royal Artillery training camp in England in 1917 © IWM HU 102285

A pre-existing heart condition spelled the end of Sgt Johnson’s army career.  He was honourably discharged on 13th June 1917.  He returned to Malvern in failing  health and an operation became necessary.  Sadly he died on 14th July 1917, as a result of a suppurative peritonitis following a ruptured appendix.

Report of his death

On the 21st July 1917 the Malvern News reported:

“The death took place on Saturday last, of Mr Joseph Johnson, Chester Place, Newtown, second son of the late Mr and Mrs J. Johnson, Eastbury, North Malvern, aged 55 years.

“The deceased who was a former member of the Malvern Artillery, offered his services to the Army after the outbreak of War, and was accepted. With his long experience as a Volunteer he was appointed a drill instructor, and attached to the Artillery in the South of England until about a month ago, discharging his duties most efficiently. He returned to Malvern in failing health and an operation became necessary. His eldest son, Bertram, of the R.F.A., was killed in action some time ago.


Joseph Johnson’s funeral took place on the afternoon of 16th July 1917 at St Matthias Church, Malvern Link .  The burial service in the churchyard was conducted by the Rev D.F. Scotcher, curate-in-charge of the Church of the Ascension.

The Malvern News recorded that the mourners were Mrs Johnson (Widow), Mr Christopher Johnson and Mr Godfrey Johnson (sons), Mrs P.J. Smith (daughter), Mr Walter Johnson and Mr Horace Johnson (brothers). Others present were Messrs, R. Ford, T. Pennington, W. Bowen, F. Taylor, and H. Horniblow.”

Worcester Journal 24/1/1891
Worcestershire Chronicle 14/12/1901
Malvern News 21/7/1917
1901 Census
1911 Census

Submit information

If you know anything more about Joseph Johnson then please fill out the form below and we will update his record accordingly:

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Your Message

    Image attachments:

    (if you would like to send more photos please email us directly at