Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
ff
D/KX 132149   Leading Stoker George Usher Johnston
Save as PDF
Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 24/06/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: HMS Kenya, Royal Navy (British Navy)
Date Of Birth: 21/01/1923
Died: 13/12/1943 (Died by accident)
Age: 21
Summary      
George Usher Johnston was the son of William and Annie Johnston. He was born on 21st January 1923 in Coagh Street, Cookstown. Prior to enlisting, he had tried to join the Navy on a couple of occasions, but had been unsuccessful. Leading Stoker George Johnston served with the Royal Navy on board H.M.S. Kenya. On 9th December 1943 the ship arrived at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka in advance of carrying out local exercises with HMS Newcastle. Leading Stoker Johnston died as a result of a fatal accident during recreational bathing in Trincomalee harbour on 13th December 1943.
Leading Stoker George Usher Johnston
Further Information
George Usher Johnston was the son of William and Annie Johnston. He was born on 21st January 1923 at ‘Orange’ Row, in Coagh Street, Cookstown.
George had five sisters and went to Oldtown School.
Known family: William Johnston, Annie Johnston, George Usher Johnston (born 21st January 1923), Ivy Johnston, Sadie Johnston.
He worked as a shop boy in Faulkner’s, Cookstown.
Prior to enlisting, he had tried to join the Navy on a couple of occasions before his 18th birthday, but had been unsuccessful.
Leading Stoker George Johnston served with the Royal Navy on board H.M.S. Kenya.
Leading Stoker George Usher Johnston
HMS Kenya was a Crown Colony-class cruiser of the Royal Navy. The ship was named after Kenya, a British possession at the time of the ship's construction. It was launched on 18 August 1939.
HMS Kenya
In December 1943, HMS Kenya was deployed at Kilindini. On 4th December HMS Kenya took passage to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, with HM Cruiser Newcastle.
On 9th December they arrived at Trincomalee in advance of carrying out local exercises with HMS Newcastle.
Leading Stoker George Usher Johnston died as a result of a fatal accident during recreational bathing in Trincomalee harbour on 13th December 1943. He was 21 years old.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 1st January 1944: Roll of Honour
JOHNSTON – Drowned at sea, 13th December, Leading Stoker George Johnston, Royal Navy, only son of William and Annie Johnston. Deeply regretted by his sorrowing father and mother and sisters. Some day we will understand. Mr and Mrs Johnston wish to thank all friends who called or wrote expressing sympathy on their bereavement, 97 Coagh Street, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 1st January 1944: Cookstown Naval Raring Drowned
Mrs Johnston, of 97 Coagh Street, Cookstown, received a telegram on 13th December from the Royal Navy Barracks, Devonport, stating that her son, George Usher Johnston, acting Leading Stoker, had lost his life through drowning as the result of an accident when bathing from the ship’s side. The Commander conveyed severe sympathy with Mrs Johnston in her very sad loss.
The deceased young man, after serving his apprenticeship to the grocery business with Messrs. Henry and Faulkner of Cookstown, joined the Royal Navy in June 1941. He saw active service as he was on one of the warships in the relief of Malta. He was also at the landing and evacuation of Norway, but principally on convey work on the Murmansk route to Russia. His last home leave was in November 1942. He was only 21 years of age. Two of his sisters are in the A.T.S.
Leading Stoker Johnston was buried in an iron casket on the shore close to where he died.
A few years later his body was re-interred at Trincomalee War Cemetery. The inscription on his grave reads: ‘I SHALL GO TO HIM, BUT HE SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME II SAMUEL XII.23’
Two of his sisters, Ivy and Sadie, joined the ATS in the Second World War.
George Johnston is commemorated locally on Cookstown Cenotaph and on Molesworth Presbyterian Roll of Honour.
A war memorial bell in the Council House, Derby commemorates the members of the crew of HMS Kenya and the adoption of the ship by the City of Derby. Leading Stoker Johnston is listed on the memorial.
war memorial bell in the Council House, Derby
war memorial bell in the Council House, Derby
The CWGC record Leading Stoker George Usher Johnston as the son of William and Annie Johnston of Cookstown, County Tyrone.
Read more
Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Orange Row, Coagh Street Cookstown Central Born in Coagh Street 54.648486 -6.742740
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 Derbyshire War Memorials War memorial bell in the Council House, Derby - HMS Kenya
2 Naval History.net 13/12/1943 - Fatal accident during recreational bathing in harbour
3 Uboat.Net - HMS Kenya HMS Kenya ship information including photo
4 War Graves Photographic Project (1) Photo of George Usher Johnston's grave can be purchased here
5 War Graves Photographic Project (2) Photo of George Usher Johnston's grave can be purchased here
6 Wikipedia - HMS Kenya Details of HMS Kenya
7 wrecksite.eu Details of George Usher Johnston
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020