Received today in time for our Names on The Roll talk Friday 1st July at the Devoran Village Hall are these photographs from the wonderful volunteers at The War Graves Photographic Project, showing interesting details of James Johnson’s grave in Maala Cemetery in Aden / Yemen.
Aden is where James died in April 1915 during the fight against the Ottoman Turks, hundreds of miles away from home and family in Devoran.
Not the usual white CWGC gravestone, it looks as if his original headstone “erected by his comrades as a token of esteem” has been incorporated into his grave block of “concrete and marble” so not needing the contract for the standard headstone. (The Imperial / Commonwealth War Grave Commision documents notes for Johnson that “The headstone for this grave is not included in the contract.”)
Next of kin is here listed as Mr. A Johnson – maybe a typing error for his wife Alice Johnson, Belmont Terrace, Devoran?
Maala Cemetery lies in Yemen, a country that the Foreign Office currently (2016) advise caution against visiting due to regional unrest since 2011, so it is excellent that the volunteers of the TWGPP have provided such images.
CWGC notes that “The war graves, which are scattered in the different denominational plots among those of civilians, are marked by headstones or private memorials and surrounded by kerbs filled with coral chippings. Many of the graves of the 1914-1918 War have also been kerbed in conformity with the general design of the cemetery.”
It gives further interesting information such as his Company, A Company 1st / 4th Battalion DCLI (the ‘4th battalion’ whom he volunteered for alongside several other Devoran men and served with in India, then Aden / Yemen). Even more interesting is the inscription “Who Died of Dysentery at Aden 12th April 1916 Aged 38 years”.
So we have a cause of death from disease in active service rather than wounds or combat.
Maala Cemetery, CWGC Register showing several other deaths of highest to lowest ranks dying from dysentery and sickness. Several other Cornish names or DCLI soldiers (Sergeant J Bath and Private P. Common) are buried in this cemetery and included on this range of documents.
General scene shot from TWGPP website at Maala Cemetery showing the usual CWGC headstones for some graves.
Interesting information on James Johnson from previous blogposts:
Posted on the date of the centenary of his death 12 April 1916 / 2016:
James Johnson mentioned as an early 1914 volunteer:
The final words we would all share for James Johnson lying so far from his home village of Devoran and his family, lying as he does in a far off and a war-torn region still, “Peace Perfect Peace”
James Johnson, Rememberd