Sunday, 4 January 2015

Letter from Mr Reg. Johnson

Reginald Campbell Johnson (1895-1984), known as Reg or Rege, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 August 1914. He was a farrier, aged 19. On 19 October 1914 he sailed with F Company of the 8th Infantry Battalion on HMAT Benalla. A number of other men from Avoca were in the same Company and also on board the Benalla.

The camp at Mena near Cairo, Egypt, photographed 1915. Photograph in the collection of the Australian War Memorial ID A02741.

On 30 January 1915 the Avoca Free Press published a letter from Reg to his parents  dated 13 December 1914. In his letter Johnson mentions:
  • Watty, probably his brother Walter Henry Clarence Johnson (1888-1953), who enlisted at the same time and was also serving with the 8th Battalion
  • Dave, probably Dave Summers (1893-1916), who had played with Johnson in the Avoca Brass Band.
  • Billy French's accident to his knee; French was repatriated early in 1915 because of it.
  • camping near Cairo only about half a mile from the great pyramids pyramids at Giza. Johnson mentions the Sphinx, an Indian wounded by Arabs, two New Zealanders being stabbed, and two men who died falling from the pyramids.

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1915, January 30). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved January 4, 2015, from

Johnson fought at Gallipoli and was wounded on 25 April 1915 with gunshot injuries to his face. He spent five months in a Manchester hospital and returned to Australia later in 1915. (National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; Johnson Reginald Campbell : SERN 679 : POB Avoca VIC : POE Surrey Hills VIC : NOK Johnson Henry, page 12)

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