Herbert Arthur Johnston was born on 6 April 1893 in Takaka, son of William Henry Johnston, a saddler of Takaka. He had three siblings including a brother Alfred Henry Johnston who was three years older and also served in the war.
At the time of enlisting he was farming for A.Winton in Upper Takaka. He had served in the Territorials previously and undergone training. He commenced duty on 15 August 1914 as part of the 12th (Nelson) Regiment of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. He departed from NZ on board HMNZT 11 on 15 October 1914 and disembarked at Alexandria on 2 December 1914, his service in Egypt beginning two days later.
He served in Egypt in 1914/15 then at Gallipoli in 1915. He left Alexandria for the Dardanelles on 12 April 1915 and was wounded on 8 May at the ‘Daisy Patch’. He was transferred to England by the hospital ship Guilford Castle on 11 May.
On 1 August 1915 he was in Netley Hospital in England with a bullet wound to the left thigh and though fractured, was reported as ‘progressing favourably’. He spent much of the next four months in hospitals, first at 17th General Hospital, Alexandria, then after transfer to England on the HS Letitia on 3 July, he was treated at Netley Hospital then Walton and Epsom, followed by a period of furlough. As was customary, he was labelled with a luggage tag for each move and these tags are reproduced for display, starting with the evacuation from the Dardanelles on board the HS Guilford Castle. The labels have the destination and on the back a description of the wound and its state. We are also fortunate to have a number of photographs of Herbert in hospital showing his heavily bandaged leg and often with a cigarette in hand or in his mouth.
He was selected to be invalided to NZ on 16 December 1915 per the SS Rotorua and struck off strength NZEF. He finally departed UK on 3 February 1916 and was discharged on 5 March. At this point he was described as being medically unfit for active service but fit for employment in civil life. His total service was 1 year 204 days of which 93 days were in NZ.
He received the standard issue of medals; the 1914-1915 Star with a wound stripe on the ribbon, British War Medal with a red chevron and the Victory Medal with a blue chevron indicating theatres of service.
His brother Alfred is reported to have sold his farm at Murchison in order join up with the 19th Reinforcements. He left his wife Ivy Isobel and two young children.
He married on 16 January 1918 and continued to work for the Post Office. He died on 19 July 1962 and next of kin was noted as Mrs Annie Louisa Johnston of 54 Quebec Road, Nelson.