Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 26, 1894
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSven John Johnson and Josephine Johnson, 5 Ninth Avenue, Kenora
Trade / CallingClerk
Service Details
Regimental Number532170
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionNo. 12 Field Ambulance
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment644 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg
Date of EnlistmentMarch 10, 1916
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 15, 1969
Age at Death75
Buried AtCremated

Johnson, John Walford

Private John Walford Johnson enlisted in March 1916 and served in France and Belgium with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He was invalided back to Canada in October 1918 due to illness.

John was born on 26 June 1894 in Norman, Ontario. His parents, Sven John Johnson and Josephine Carlson, both immigrated to Canada in the late 1880s, Sven from Sweden and his wife from either Sweden or Finland. They were married in Keewatin, Ontario in 1892 and they made their home in the neighbouring town of Norman (now part of Kenora). They had five children: Carl Victor, John Walford, Arthur William (died at age one), Ida Wilhelmina and Albin William. Sven worked for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company and later the Maple Leaf Milling Company. The family moved to Kenora around 1912.

John was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba and working as a clerk when he enlisted. He signed up on 10 March 1916 and joined No. 12 Field Ambulance in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. His unit headed east three months later and the recruits embarked from Montreal on 23 June on the SS Scandinavian, arriving in England in early July. After a few more weeks of training No. 12 Field Ambulance was sent to France on 10 August. Field ambulances operated advanced and main dressing stations, which were located just behind the front lines. They provided short term medical care, collecting casualties, treating them and evacuating them to the clearing stations and hospitals as needed. They also operated rest stations and provided stretcher bearers for moving the wounded.

In the fall of 1916 the Canadians were at the Somme, where they suffered 24,000 casualties, and the winter was spent near Arras, across from Vimy. In April 1917 they captured Vimy Ridge then stayed in the area holding the new front line. John had been serving in France for almost a year when he was given ten days leave in Paris in July. In August the Canadian Corps took part in the Battle of Hill 70 and afterwards John was out of action for three months, from mid-September to mid-December 1917, getting medical treatment for vd. He was at No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station then No. 51 General Hospital in Etaples. He rejoined his unit just before Christmas and the Canadians spent the winter in the Arras sector again.

On 21 January 1918 John was admitted to No. 18 Casualty Clearing Station, suffering from pneumonia. He became very ill but by mid-February he was well enough to be transferred to No. 18 General Hospital in Camiers. From there he was evacuated to the 1st Southern Hospital in Birmingham, England. He was suffering from the after effects of pneumonia and a possible heart condition. On 22 May he was transferred to the convalescent centre at Epsom and in July he was moved to the King’s Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital at Bushy Park. He was discharged to duty at the end of August but about a week later he was back in the hospital again, this time in No. 11 General at Moore Barracks. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and on 9 October he was transferred to the Canadian Special Hospital (Tubercular) in Lenham, Kent.

On 30 October John was discharged to the Hospital Ship Neuralia, to be invalided to Canada for further treatment. He arrived in Halifax on 10 November, the day before the Armistice, and he was admitted to the Manitoba Military Hospital in Winnipeg on 14 November. In his medical history he stated that he was ill with tuberculosis a few years before enlisting, and he had spent several months in British Columbia getting treatment. On 23 December 1918 he was discharged to ‘G’ unit of the Invalided Soldiers Commission. His final medical exam recommended six months of treatment at a sanatorium. His older brother Carl Victor served in Canada until December 1918 and his younger brother Albin William returned from overseas in September 1919.

When the 1921 census was taken John was living in Kenora with his parents and working at a bank. Not long after that he moved to the U.S. and he was married in Buffalo, New York in 1924. His wife, Lilian Victoria Nelson, was a teacher who was born in Winnipeg in 1900 to Swedish immigrants Nickolas and Alma Nelson. Her brother George Arthur Nelson was a veteran of the war.

John and Lilian had one son, Lloyd Walford, who was born in 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. When the 1930 census was taken they were living in Oak Park Village, near Chicago, and John was the manager of a garage. By 1932 they had moved to Buffalo, New York and John was manufacturing a cleaning product called Johnson’s Cleaner. He started his own firm, Johnson Products Company, and operated it for about 25 years. After retiring he and his wife moved to Sun City on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. John passed away at John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix on 15 December 1969, at age 75.

By Becky Johnson

Johnson-John-Walford-90 Johnson-John-Walford-91

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