Major Richard Johnstone, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died at his home in Saltisford, Warwick on 14th February 1922 as a result of contracting pneumonia. He was 47 years old and his officer’s correspondence file at The National Archives indicates that his death was attributable to his war service.
He was born on 23rd June 1874 in Samaguting, in the Naga Hills, India. From 1866-1957 Samaguting (present-day Chümoukedima, Nagaland) was the district headquarters of the Government of British India, with Naga Hills being a district of the Assam province.
Richard Johnstone was the second of the four children of James Johnstone KCSI and his wife Emma Mary, (née Lloyd) who had married at Aston in 1872 whilst James Johnstone was on leave from his Army posting in India.
Major-General Sir James Johnstone, as he later became, first took his wife over to India in November 1873, a few months after the death from bronchitis of their eldest son, James, aged almost six months. Their third child, Arthur (1877-79), died in Manipur, India aged one year and ten months.
In 1881, James Johnstone inherited the Fulford Hall estate at Tidbury Green following the death of his late father’s elder brother, Edward Johnstone (1804-1881). His wife died in 1883, leaving him with two young sons and a daughter. Having been severely wounded during the Burma campaign 1885-6, he returned to England and received a knighthood in 1887. He built Fulford Hall during 1887-90.
Richard attended Winchester College 1887-88 before leaving for Glenalmond School, which he attended until 1891. In 1893 he joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, being commissioned into the 1st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, in 1895 and seeing action in India that year as part of the Chitral Relief Force.
He also served in South Africa during the Boer War 1899-1902, receiving severe wounds to the thighs during the Battle of Dundee. In 1905 he became Adjutant of the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps.
Lieutenant Richard Johnstone married Catherine Florence May Harris at Simon’s Town, South Africa on 1st June 1899. They had five children, of whom four survived to adulthood:
- James 1900-1984
- Agnes Elswyth 1903-1903
- Ruth Gwendolen 1906-2001
- Stella Margaret 1908-1996
- Adam 1912-2003
Richard Johnstone was gazetted Captain in September 1901 and retired from the Army with this rank in 1910. However, he remained in the Reserve of Officers and re-joined his regiment following the outbreak of the First World War.
He was gazetted Major in June 1915 and went out to France the same year. In 1918 he suffered from exposure and gas, which apparently contributed to his death in 1922.
At the time of his death, his eldest son, James, was serving in Silesia with the Durham Light Infantry. Youngest son, Adam, served in the Second World War, and was taken prisoner by the Japanese whilst a Major in the Royal Army Service Corps.
Major Richard Johnstone is buried at Budbrooke, Warwickshire. If you have any further information, please let us know.
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