Edgar Johnson

Service number: 17777 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Essex Regiment

Died, August 30, 1918.  Aged 34.

Buried at Brandon Cemetery BRANDON CEMETERY, Suffolk, UK.


Edgar was born in 1888. His parents were Jabez, an agricultural labourer and Frances (nee Edwards) and the family lived in one of the Fen House Cottages, out in the countryside on the Lakenheath side of Brandon. Sadly for Edgar his mother died in the summer of 1897 when he was eleven years old. According to the 1901 census Jabe was still employed on a farm and had his mother-in-law, Jane Edwards, living with the family. 13-year-old Edgar was also contributing a wage to the family and was employed as a farm labourer. By the 1911 census Edgar had left home and was boarding with the Godbold family at Manor Farm. He was working on the farm as a cowman.

At the outbreak of war Edgar enlisted as one of ‘Kitchener’s Army’ and soon later he left the town to go to war. Not much else is known about Edgar’s movements in the war apart from after his death.

While serving with the Essex Regmiment he was hospitalised. Exactly when this occurred is currently unknown, but if it happened during August 1918 then it would have been at a time when his unit was at the front and being subjected to heavy enemy artillery, including shells filled with gas. On the 22nd August the battalion “went over the top”, coincidentally in support of the Norfolks, and were subjected to machine guns, sniping and artillery rounds which caused many casualties.

Edgar was so severely wounded that it was decided he would receive better care back home in Britain. He was placed on the hospital ship ‘Gloucester Castle’ and crossed the Channel. Sadly during this crossing he succumb to his wounds and died. His body was brought back to Brandon to be buried in the town’s cemetery. This was the first time Brandon had a fatality of the war brought back to the town. His father had since moved from Brandon to a farm in Methwold but he came back to the town to bury his son. The funeral was officiated by Rev. J.P. Watts, the Rector of St Peter’s Church, and was attended by all the great and good people of Brandon. It was a very sombre occasion, and being the first burial in the town of one of its men from the front it no doubt became a time when the town could reflect upon all its other men lost in the war. Edgar was given a gun salute over his grave, with Corporal Ernest Royal sounding the “Last Post”. Before joining the fighting Edgar had been a member of the Loyal Truth and Sincerity Lodge of Oddfellows, and representatives from this organisation attended his burial, along with other representatives from Brandon groups. Edgar was 31 years of age.