Liverpool City Police

the Johnson's Sacrifice by Peter dellius Retd.

The Johnson’s Sacrifice

William Johnson was born in London in 1857 and little is known of his early life but at some stage he arrives in Liverpool and in 1880 married Wilhelmina who was 20 years of age and of Irish stock having been born in Newtownstewart. The union was later blessed with five sons and three daughters.

Circa 1885 William joined the Police and was in the course of time promoted Sergeant to the South of the City in the then “C” Division, more than likely at Essex Street Bridewell according to contemporary reports he was liked by the public and his police colleagues alike.

In the early years of the 1900’s the Johnson Family, resided at 171 Orwell Road, Kirkdale, near to Westminster Road Police Station and made its way in the world as best it could the young ones gaining employment in various vocations, two of the five sons of the family followed William into the Liverpool City Police, George Sydney being a Constable in “E” Division and living with his wife, Jessie, at 30 Bradewell Street adjacent to Westminster Road Police station and possibly an attached Police dwelling. The other, William Edward, was a Constable in “H” Division, which was a multi duty Division incorporating the Mounted, Fire Brigade, Warrants, CID, and Hackney Carriage Dept Etc. He resided at the Parental home.

On the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 all five sons, George Sydney, William Edward, Edwin, Thomas and Douglas joined His Majesty’s Forces to do their patriotic duty.

George Sydney joined Lord Derby’s Pals and served in the 19th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment, it is thought that Edwin, Thomas and Douglas also joined the Army and more than likely they too joined the Liverpool Pals.

William Edward decided to serve in the Royal Navy and was by 1916 a Petty Officer on Board HMS Turbulent.

Mrs Johnson like most Mother’s of that time must have been worried sick for the safety of her sons, little knowing that the main slaughter of the Somme offensive was yet to come. Yet when tragedy struck the Johnson household, it came at home, when on the 7th of February 1916 Sergeant William Johnson of the Liverpool City Police died suddenly at his home aged just 57 year. A tragedy indeed but unlike Mrs. Johnson he was spared the heartache to come.

On 1st June 1916, HMS Turbulent was heavily engaged in Battle with the Grand Fleet of the German Navy at Jutland, a battle of heavy cost to both sides and with both sides claiming victory. During this epic battle William Edward Johnson was killed in Action aged 29 years and latter buried in Fredrikshavn Cemetery, Denmark one of only 4 such burials.

During the disastrous battle of the Somme, the Liverpool Pals were faced with the might of the German Forces they quit themselves well but paid too heavy a price, among those killed in Action of the 30th of July, 1916 was the name Sergeant 31075 George Sydney Johnson, aged 36 years.

1916 was not kind to the Johnson Family or to the Liverpool City Police, worse was to come but mercifully for Mrs Johnson Edwin, Thomas and Douglas came home and it is to be hoped that they were sound in mind and body, but knowing the horror of the first world war I doubt it.

Peter Dellius
January 2013

Sgt. William Johnson - click to enlarge
Liverpool Echo July 30th 1918 - click to enlarge
Frederikshavn_Cemetery - click to enlarge

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