William Samuel Johnston

Irish Guards Lance Corporal William Samuel Johnston died on 30th January 1944 as his battalion fought during the Battle of Anzio on the Italian coast.

Lance Corporal

William Samuel Johnston

2722971

Lance Corporal William Samuel Johnston from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim served with 1st Battalion Irish Guards as they landed on the beachhead at Anzio in 1944.

Lance Corporal William Samuel Johnston (2722971) served in 1st Battalion Irish Guards during World War Two. He was the son of William John Johnston and Mary Jane "Jeanie" Johnston (née Pollock) of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.

Lance Corporal Johnston’s father William John Johnston died in June 1916 when William was 1 year old. His mother was pregnant at the time with a daughter, Agnes Atkinson Johnston. She later married Henry James Crawford of Seymour Street, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. The couple had another son also named Henry James Crawford who died while serving in the Royal Air Force in 1943.

Before the outbreak of war, William had been a keen footballer and was highly-rated in the Ballymoney area as a great goalkeeper. He was a musician who played in his local pipe band as well as taking a leading role as Staff Sergeant in the Boys’ Brigade.

Lance Corporal Johnston died in fierce fighting on 30th January 1944 during the Battle of Anzio. He was 28 years old. Beginning on 22nd January 1944, Johnston took part in Operation Shingle, an amphibious landing as part of the Battle of Anzio. The aim was to establish a beachhead and aid the Allied advance on Rome.

Alan Whicker, working at Anzio for the BBC referred to the aftermath of the operation as one of the Allies “greatest blunders” of World War Two. They faced strong opposition with limited resources and lost many men.

William Samuel Johnston’s grave is in Section IV, Row J, Grave 8 of Anzio War Cemetery, Italy. His name also features on the Ballymoney War Memorial. Johnston’s headstone bears the inscription:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember.

William lies next to fellow Irish Guards Guardsman John O’Neill and Lance Sergeant Frederick Charles Cartlidge.

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