JOHNS, Norman Wellington

1st World War
Date of Birth
Date Attested
Attested at
Exeter, Ontario
Original Unit
Regimental Number
Date of Death
Age at Death
21 years 4 months
Biographical Summary

DIVISIONAL UNIT:        3rd Canadian Infantry Division
                                             9th Infantry Brigade
                                             58th Battalion - Central Ontario
                                             Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO:                   654594
RESIDENCE:                    Centralia – Ontario 
DATE OF BIRTH:            June 15, 1896
                                             Usborne Township – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH:           October 26, 1917                 21 years     4 months
CEMETERY:                     Nine Elms British Cemetery – Poperinge –
                                             West Vlaanderen – Belgium
                                             V     E     18
PARENTS:                         Mr. William and Honor Johns – Centralia – Ontario.
Occupation:                        Farmer.                                 Religion:     Methodist.
Enlistment:                         Exeter – March 21, 1916 – 161st Huron battalion.
Enlistment Age:                 19 years     9 months.

Private Johns arrived overseas on November 11, 1916. Private Johns was Struck off Strength of the 161st Battalion after transferring to the 58th Battalion on November 27, 1916. He then moved overseas to France on November 30th and in very late December he joined the 58th Battalion already in the field.
Private Johns was seriously wounded in the back and in his neck and was attended to immediately in the field and taken to No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station where he died later that day.
The battlefield in front of the 3rd Division was deep with sticky mud that in places was waist deep. Their advance begain before dawn and they moved along the remain of the Gravenstafel-Passchendaele toward the Bellevue Spur. The conditions were horrible, but they still overran the enemy front line positions. Then, the German artillery began falling on the Canadians and it became so bad they had to halt their advance. They held onto their gains for a period of time before they retreated. They tried to find any sort of cover as they dug in. Their advance on this day was 1,000 yards.
The casualties were 2,900 with 600 men losing their lives.
It was raining, the clouds were heavy the winds were light and the Battalion was waiting to advance from Wieltje Dugout. The 58th Battalion / 43rd Battalion were the assaulting Battalions with the 52nd Battalion in support and the 116th Battalion in reserve. At 5:40 am the advance went forward with the support of the artillery.
German artillery responded immediately inflicting some casualties. When the Brigade artillery barrage lifted it was noticed the advance was slower on the right was slower than the left and it was distributed to a depth of 300 yards. As the infantry advanced casualties were being taken. The advance continued and a number of “pill boxes” were captured at Lamkerk and Dad Trench. It was here they came under very heavy enemy machine-gun fire from the enemy trenches and heavy enfilade machine-gun fire from Bellevue Farm to the left of the front.
More heavy enemy fire was coming from Crest Farm causing the men to seek protection in shell holes. Following this, there was bloody, bitter and fierce fighting for Contour Trench. Then in mid-afternoon 64 enemy soldiers stood up and surrendered. This opened the way for the Battalion to consolidate and take possession of the enemy trenches.
While the advance was moving ahead and during the battle severe casualties were taken.
During the night of October 26th machine gun posts were set up in front of Contour Trench and the enemy made no attempt to try and recapture what they had lost.
This was a severe day of losses for the Battalion as losses amounted to 61% of the 500 men who began the advance earlier in the morning. Killed, wounded and missing amounted to 303 men.