Arthur Lyon Johnson MM

Compiled by Al Lloyd with photos supplied by John Geen

Seen here with his good friend, Ernest Geen.   They signed up for the 21st Battalion together and their lives crossed paths many times, both during and after the war.  See also the page for Ernest Geen.  Ernest replaced him Arthur when he was invalided to England in February 1916.  They stood up for each other when they were married as well as serving with each other in the Argyll Light Infantry after the war.

This photo was taken at Arthur Johnson's wedding to the grand-daughter of Sir MacKenzie Bowell, Canada's 5th Prime Minister.   The photo was taken on the grounds of the Bowell estate in Belleville Ontario.   Ernest Geen can be seen to the right of the Bride and Groom.


Sep 2, 1881

Born at Belleville Ontario


Nov 7, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Number 59513 (temporary No. 881)

Ø      Next of kin given as Mary L Johnson of c/o FD Diamond Foster Ave, Belleville Ontario

Ø      Separation Allowance of $20 per month assigned to his widowed mother

Ø      Occupation given as “Hotel Steward”

Ø      Previous military experience given as 15th Regiment, Argyll Light Infantry

Ø      Religion given as “Wesleyan”


Jan 14, 1915

Appointed to rank of Corporal in “H” Company


May 1, 1915

Pay assignment of $20 per month to Lt Col L.W. Marsh, Belleville Ontario


May 6, 1915

Embarked RMS Metagama at Montreal for England



May 15, 1915

Disembarked the RMS Metagama in England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked at Folkestone for France


Feb 7, 1916

Wounded by gun shot to head at Dickebush 

Ø      Bullet entered left cheek and exited the back of the neck.  






Feb 8, 1916

Admitted to No 13 General Hospital with a GSW (Gun Shot wound) to the head


Feb 17, 1916

Invalided to England


Feb 19, 1916

Taken on Strength (TOS) at CCAC (Canadian Casualty Assembly Center) at Folkestone and admitted to 4th Northern General Hospital


Apr 1, 1916

Admitted to 4th Northern General Hospital, Lincoln with “GSW head”


Apr 2, 1916

Transferred to Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Monks Horton


May 5, 1916

Given light duty for 8 weeks by Standing Medical Board at Monks Horton, for “pains in head” and discharged from hospital


May 9, 1916

Discharged to CCAC (Canadian Casualty Assembly Center) at Monks Horton


Aug 21, 1916

Promoted to Temp Lieut (London Gazette Oct 18, 1916) posted from CTD (Canadian Training Depot) to Gen List and attached C. Com. D. (Canadian Command Depot?)


Feb 20, 1917

SOS on transfer to 1st CCD (Canadian Convalescent Depot) 

Ø      Qualified “2nd Class” in Second course at Can TW School, Crowboro


May 18, 1917

Ceases to be attached on transfer to 3rd CCD


May 21, 1917

Posted to EORD


Jun 1, 1917

TOS EORD at Seaford from General List


Jun 20, 1917

Transferred to 6th Reserve Battalion


Jun 25, 1917

SOS EORD on reporting to 6th Reserve Battalion


Jun 30, 1917

On command No 2 School of Instruction at Bedford


Aug 13, 1917

Ceases to be on Command of 6th Reserve Battalion


Aug 25, 1917

“Confidential Report filed in Envelope of No 2 School of Instruction, Bedford, which terminated” 


This is transcribed exactly as is from the record.  No other explanation is given as to content of letter.


Oct 13, 1917

SOS 6th Reserve Battalion on proceeding overseas for duty with 21st Battalion


Oct 15, 1917

TOS 21st Battalion from England


Oct 17, 1917

Left for CCRC (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp)


Oct 19, 1917

Arrived at CCRC


Oct 24, 1917

Forfeits 48 days pay (Oct 24 to Dec 10, 1917)


Nov 9, 1917

Left to join 21st Battalion in the field


Dec 12, 1917

Dismissed from HMS by General Court Martial, London Gazette 30504



Dec 15, 1917

Transferred to EOR to be dismissed from His Majesty’s Service


Dec 16, 1917

Reported to “Adcanef” (Adjutant, Canadian Expeditionary Force?) stating “dismissed service in field” 

Ø      $20 monthly payment to LW Marsh stopped

Ø      Separation allowance to mother also stopped


Dec 21, 1917

Attested into the 6th Reserve Battalion at Seaford, Sussex, England 

Ø      Number 1263320

Ø      Next of kin given as Mary L Johnson

Ø      Occupation now given as “Accountant”

Ø      Previous service given as 15th Canadian Militia and 21st Battalion CEF – 3 years


Jan 5, 1918

TOS 21st Battalion


Jan 10, 1918

Arrived CCRC (Canadian Corps Rein Camp)


Jan 11, 1918

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field


Mar 31, 1918

Admitted to 6 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) then transferred to #56 General Hospital with GSW to face


Apr 13, 1918

Discharged to 2nd Canadian Infantry Base Depot


Apr 19, 1918

Left for CCRC


Apr 20, 1918

Arrived at CCRC


Apr 25, 1918

Awarded the Military Medal as appeared in the London Gazette No. 30652.   


The citation reads: 

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  In connection with a hostile raid on a large scale, when the enemy succeeded in entering our trenches under cover of an intense artillery barrage and the use of liquid fire, this man advanced in the counter-attack, with great courage bombing the enemy continually notwithstanding he was under a heavy rain of bombs and rifle fire with no cover or protection.  He worked his way up the line until the enemy were driven out.  His example was responsible for retaking the part of the line.  A.F.W. 3121 7-3-18


May 5, 1918

Left to join 21st Battalion


May 7, 1918

Joined 21st Battalion in the field


Aug 25, 1918

Posted to EORD on proceeding to England with view to a commission


Aug 29, 1918

On Command to 1st Res pending OTC


Sep 8, 1918

Ceases on Command 1st Reserve and on Command OTC Bexhill 

Appointed Acting Sergeant with pay


Oct 8, 1918

When jumping off a parapet, went over on his left ankle which resulted in swelling


Oct 10, 1918

Admitted No 13 Canadian General Hospital, Hastings with sprained left ankle.  Treated with rest and massage.


Oct 24, 1918

Discharged from hospital to Depot.


Nov 22, 1918

SOS to 6th Reserve Battalion on being Gazetted to commission in Overseas Military Force of Canada


Nov 23, 1918

To be Temporary Lieutenant – London Gazette No. 31066, dated Dec 14, 1918


Jan 24, 1919

SOS 6th Reserve Battalion on posting to EORD (Eastern Ontario Regimental Depot) and placed on Command of 1st CCD (Canadian Command Depot) at Seaford


Mar 29, 1919

SOS 1st CCD on proceeding to 6th Reserve Battalion for duty at Witley


Apr 21, 1919

SOS EORD on transfer to 21st Battalion at Witley


May 13, 1919

Embarked SS Caronia at Liverpool for Canada and TOS Military District No 3 at Kingston



May 26, 1919

SOS MD No 3 on being demobilized


The medals card indicates that his British War Medal and Victory Medal were sent to 175 Charles St., Belleville Ontario.  There is no date recorded for this.


Apr 16, 1934


Deceased at Belleville Ontario


Belleville Cemetery, Belleville ON




Arthur Lyon Johnson
Researched and compiled by Al Lloyd

 Library and Archives Canada reference 


Johnson, Arthur Lyon




21st Battalion




AA Section 19




RG150 - Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, Series 8, File 649-J-640, Microfilm Reel Number T-8667, file access code 90, Finding Aid Number 150-5


            The General Court Martial was held November 20, 1917, at the Rear Headquarters of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade, FORT GEORGE, at 10.00 am.   Three other persons were put on trial the same day, but Lieut AL Johnson was the only member of the 21st Battalion.


President of the proceedings 

Brigadier General HDB Ketchen, CMG, Commanding 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade. 


Lieut Col AEG McKenzie, DSO             26th Canadian Battalion

Lieut Col LH Millen                          19th Canadian Battalion

Major W Andrews, DSO               20th Canadian Battalion

Capt AO Dawson                                26th Canadian Battalion 

Waiting Members 

Major A McMillan, DSO               26th Canadian Battalion

Capt WC Michell                                     18th Canadian Battalion 

Judge Advocate 

Capt JH Thorpe,                                 7th Manchester Regiment 


Capt AP Christmas                             21st Canadian Battalion 

TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE  The original documents that I viewed are on microfilm and most pages were extremely difficult to decipher, those that were hand written presented the most difficulty.  I have the original scans, plus the enhancements that I produced as working copies.  If you wish to view those, please email me at  

1st Charge: 

The accused, Lieutenant Arthur Lyon Johnson, 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion, attached 2nd Divisional Wing Canadian Corps Reinforcemnt Camp, an officer of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, is charged with: 

When on Active Service, DRUNKENESS, in that he, in the field, when on duty, about 9.15 pm 24th October 1917, was drunk.


o       Guilty 


o       Guilty 


To be dismissed from His Majesty’s Service 

Character Witness 

Major HW Cooper             21st Canadian Battalion 

            “I knew Lieut Johnson as a member of “D” Company, 21st Cdn Btn from 3rd November 1914 until the spring of 1916.  I was a Subaltern Officer in the Company.  During his period in the trenches he was a most reliable non-commissioned officer.  He was with me on several patrols and at the time he was wounded, when I wanted to bandage him first, he asked that his wounded comrade be attended to first.  He was a good soldier.” 

First Prosecution Witness 

Lieut Percival Hales Watson             28th Canadian Battalion 


Lieut Watson testified that he is the Adjutant of the 2nd Divisional Wing at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp.  On 24 October, 1917, the accused was detailed as the Orderly Officer.   I saw the accused that evening in the Orderly Room drunk at about 9.00 pm.  I informed the Commandant and he instructed me to place him under arrest.  I summoned Lieut Coulson and arrested the accused and placed him in Lieut Coulson’s custody. 

When asked by the accused, Lieut Watson stated that the accused had complied with all instructions in a reasonable manner.  That was the only question asked of him. 

 Second Prosecution Witness 

Lieut Charles Lake Coulson             19th Canadian Battalion 

Lieut Coulson testified that Lieut Watson summoned him to the Orderly Room and placed the accused under “Close Arrest” and in his custody until he was relieved approximately 15 minutes later. 

The accused declined to ask any questions 

Transcriber’s Note:  There were 2 more witnesses, but because of the poor quality of the microfilm, I could not decipher the names.  One of those was the Acting RSM, the other a Lieut, both members of the staff of the Reinforcement Camp.   Both of these men testified that they had observed the accused drunk while on duty that evening. 

Statement by Accused 

 To President and Members General Court Martial: 

            “I have pleaded guilty to the charge made against me and wish to make the following statement pleading extenuating circumstances. 

            In February 1915 I received a gun shot wound through the head which paralyzed the lower portion of my face for some six months and I still have traces of in my lower jaw.  At times the back of my head also pains considerable.  On the evening of my offence I had but three drinks which put me in the condition I was in.  I know since being injured I have had to be most careful what and how much liquor I take.  I trust you will consider this in rendering your verdict.” 

(Signed) AL Johnson

21st Canadians


THE ONTARIO INTELLIGENCER Wednesday April 18, 1934



            Arthur Johnson is dead; a native son of Belleville; one who loved the place of his birth and was proud of its beauties, has passed on to the great beyond. Deep feelings of regret were expressed by many friends and citizens generally when the word of his death at the Belleville General Hospital was received late yesterday afternoon.  In his passing a personality has been removed from the life of the city which will be greatly missed, as Major Arthur Johnson, prominent in military circles and in his work as a newspaper man, came into personal  contact with many citizens with whom he was popular.  He was the possessor of a most happy disposition and a pleasing, ingratiating manner. He abhorred sham and his ready wit and gift of repartee made him an entertaining companion. Memory of  him will linger long with his most intimate friends; it is they who knew the real Arthur Johnson and valued his friendship for his good qualities of head and heart. 

            Six weeks ago Major Johnson slipped upon a piece of ice and fractured his left ankle. After having the fracture reduced at the hospital be was taken to the home of Mrs. G. W. McCarthy, Williams street.  Later he developed pleurisy and as a result his system was considerably weakened and a little over a week ago he was removed to the Belleville General   Hospital.  Here a heart condition became acute and resulted in his demise. 

            The late Major Arthur Lyon Johnson, MM, was born in Belleville on September 2. 1831, being the third son of the late William and Mary Melissa Johnson. He was education in the city public and high schools. On leaving the high school he entered the Ontario Business College, which was conducted by his uncle, the late J. W. Johnson. M.P.P., and on graduation from that school he went to Boston where he entered upon a business career.   He was an expert accountant and occupied responsible positions in Boston and New York. When the Great War broke out, Major John-son returned to Belleville and en-listed  in the service of his country with the 21st Battalion at Kingston, thus being one of the original members of that gallant and famous regiment. He went overseas early the following year and served with distinction until the end of the war.

 Wounded at Lens 

            He was badly wounded while in the Lens sector and was invalided to England. On returning to France he was granted a commission on the field as lieutenant and awarded the Military Medal, his full decoration being Military Medal. 1914-15 star. General Service Medal and Victory Medal. The detailed particulars of the awarding of this medal to Major Johnson are set forth in an official document issued by the Department of National Defence at Ottawa and which reads as follows: 

            "The following is the citation which accompanied the presentation of the Military Medal presented 1263320 Private A. L, Johnson, 2lst Battalion Canadian Infantry.  Dated London   Gazette 30652, 25th April 1918.


              "For conspicuous    gallantry and devotion to duty.  In connection with a hostile raid on a large scale, when the enemy succeeded in entering our trenches under cover of an intense barrage and the use of liquid fire, this man advanced in the counter-attack with great courage bombing the enemy continually, notwithstanding he was under a heavy rain of bombs and rifle fire with no cover or protection.  He worked his way up the line until the enemy was driven out.  His example was responsible for re-taking part of the line." 

            In 1919 Major Johnson returned to Belleville and decided to make his home here.    On the reorganization of the Argyll Light Infantry he was made a Company Commander with the rank of Major and he continued with the battalion for some years.  Major Johnson was an enthusiastic worker for the erection of the Cenotaph and he was a leading spirit in the celebration of Armistice Day last year.   He was an enthusiastic member of the 21st Battalion Club and attended all of their reunions.   In politics he was a staunch Conservative, and was a valued worker in the party.   From September 1919 to February 1929 he was a member of the local staff of the  Government Income Tax Office, and of late years he had been a member of the staff of the Ontario Intelligencer.            

            In   June 1921, Major Johnson married Evalyn Mary McCarthy, only daughter of the late George W McCarthy and Mrs. McCarthy of this city.  Mrs. Johnson passed from this life August of the following year.  

            Major Johnson is survived by his little daughter, Evalyn, who is a great favorite with many citizens, and by the following brothers and sisters:    W. H. Johnson. Toronto; James S. Johnson,   Boston;   Mrs. (Rev) Fred Howard, Deseronto. and Mrs. Scott Gilbert, Windsor, Ont.

To them will be extended sincere sympathy by many friends and residents of this city.

The funeral which will be in charge of the military will take place Saturday afternoon from the residence of Mrs. G. W. McCarthy, at the comer of William and Bridge Street.   In the meantime the body of Major Johnson is resting at the Belleville Burial Company's funeral parlors until Friday noon.

            Friends of the late Major Johnson today commented upon his passing as follows: 

            Mr. L. G. Madden, first vice president of the 21st. Battalion Association and secretary of the Belleville branch of the 21st Battalion club said:  "Major Arthur Johnson was one of the prime movers of the organization of the 21st Battalion Club and was always  willing at all times to assist in furthering the interests of the cub and the Battalion Association.  All members will regret his passing and he will be greatly missed at our annual reunions." 

            Lt.-Col E. A. Geen, Commanding Officer of the Argyll Light Infantry said:   "In the death of Major  Arthur Johnson I personally have lost one of my greatest friends and supporters in military matters.   He enlisted with me in the 21st. Battalion at Kingston in October. 1914. and we went overseas together the following June.     In France I was corporal  in    charge of the party of stretcher bearers which carried Arthur Johnson from the M. M. trenches when he was picked off by a sniper.   He was very badly wounded.  By all ranks of the Argyll Light Infantry, Major Arthur Johnson will be greatly missed."  

            Major the Rev. A. Beauchamp Payne, chaplain of the Argyll Light Infantry:   "In the passing of Major Arthur L. Johnson the citizens of Belleville have lost a loyal citizen and the military and soldier organizations, a staunch and true comrade and friend.    The records of his service will ever stand the test of time to prove his courage in the face of duty and the experience of his friendship will remain to those who were given the opportunity of knowing him and the deeper qualities, not always revealed upon the surface of a man's life.  To his comrades who served with him his, genial character and wit will stand out in the memory of a real soldier.  His sudden passing has come as a great shock and we shall now think of him as having joined the ranks of many  warrior  comrades having reached their objective." 

            Colonel Roscoe Vanderwater, D.S.O., Sidney township, when in-formed of the death of Major Arthur Johnson recalled his lengthy association and friendship with the deceased.  I was well acquainted with him for many years, both before and during the war.  Although we served in different units in France, I met him often and renewed our old friendships.  His gallantry and conspicuous service during the war was an inspiration to the younger troops who were sent up the line is replacements.  His death comes as a shock to all who knew him." 

            Sincere and unaffected tribute to the memory of a departed fellow officer and soldier was paid today  by Regt-Sergeant Major Jack of this city, formerly of the 2nd. Battalion, with which unit he served to France.   “Arthur, as he was known to the troops in France was the embodiment of courage and cheerfulness at all times. Scarcely a returned man of the 'originals' that did not know of the smiling lieutenant and his ready wit.   His bravery on the field of battle was unquestioned, and through his example, many a rookie had been able to withstand the gaff when the going was hardest”

 This newspaper story supplied by John Geen.


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