|Date of Birth||November 26, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Bottomley, North Dakota|
|Next of Kin||Verona Johnston (wife), 657 Bannerman Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Railway conductor|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||10 Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||May 3, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||28|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||January 27, 1967|
|Age at Death||80|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana|
|Plot||Field of Honor|
Corporal David Daniel Johnston was married and the father of five children when he enlisted in the spring of 1915. He served overseas for three years and returned home shortly after the Armistice.
David was the youngest son of Henry Johnston and Elizabeth McConnell of Whytewold, Manitoba. Henry was a farmer and he and his wife had at least twelve children. During the 1880s the family spent a few years living in the U.S. and David was born in Bottomley, North Dakota on 26 November 1886. His family moved back to Manitoba by 1891 and took up farming in the St. Andrew’s area.
By 1908 David was working for the railway and living in Kenora, Ontario. He married a local girl, Veronica (Verona) McEachern, on 2 December 1908 in Kenora. Verona was the daughter of John McEachern and Margaret McLean. Her family had moved to Rat Portage (Kenora) from the Maritimes. David and Verona’s daughter Mabel Mary Evelyn was born in Kenora in 1909. A short time later they moved to Winnipeg and their next four children were born there: Walter (1910), Viola (1912), David (1913) and Kathleen (1914). The war started in August 1914 and David enlisted the following spring, signing up in Winnipeg on 3 May 1915 with the 44th Battalion. The recruits trained at Camp Sewell over the summer and headed to the east coast in the fall. They had a short stop in Kenora on 18 October and they embarked from Halifax on the SS Lapland on 23 October, arriving in the UK at the end of the month.
On 9 November David was transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion and he trained with them for four months. On 1 March 1916 he was assigned to the Headquarters Sub Staff and he served with the Canadian Military Police for the next year. During that time he was posted to the pay office at Wandsworth Detention Barracks for two months. Starting in March 1917 he served for two months with the 1st Reserve Battalion followed by six months with the Canadian Railway Troops Depot. At the end of October 1917 he was transferred to the 10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops and sent to France. He spent the next ten months with his new unit and he was promoted to Corporal in December 1917.
A month before enlisting David had surgery for varicose veins and in August 1918 his legs began to swell and cause him pain. He reported sick at No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station on 16 August and he was sent to No. 4 General Hospital in Camiers. From there he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship Jan Breydel and he spent about three weeks at Fort Pitt military hospital and the convalescent centre at Epsom. He was discharged on 13 September and transferred back to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot. He embarked for Canada on 22 November on the SS Aquitania, arriving in Halifax about a week later. He had 14 days landing leave and he was discharged on demobilization on 9 January 1919 in Winnipeg. Verona’s brother Daniel McEachern had also enlisted in May 1915. He served overseas and was invalided home as a tubercular patient in March 1918. David’s older brother James Arthur Johnston enlisted in Winnipeg in December 1915 and served in France with the Canadian Engineers.
David’s mother had died in 1915, shortly after he enlisted, and his father passed away in April 1919. David and Verona left Winnipeg and moved to Churchbridge, Saskatchewan where they took up farming. They had at least two more children, Hazel born about 1920 and Vera in 1921. Sometime after that the marriage ended and David moved to the U.S. He was married again in 1926 in Deer Lodge, Powell County, Montana to Dora Thurston (née Thorp). Four years later he married Beatrice Trethewey (née Williams) in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana, listing himself as divorced. David worked as a miner in Butte and retired in 1956. He was a member of the American Legion, Eagles Lodge and Mount Moriah Lodge. David passed away at a hospital in the community of Warm Springs, Montana on 27 January 1967, at age 80. He was survived by his wife Beatrice and two stepdaughters as well as other family members in the U.S. and Canada. He is buried in the Field of Honor at Mountain View Cemetery in Butte.
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photo courtesy of ljw on Find A Grave; David’s Find A Grave memorial includes his obituary and links to family members. Family photos courtesy of Johnston family trees on Ancestry.ca.