The Johnston brothers were the sons of Ronald and Elizabeth. Both were born in the Inverell district; Osborne in 1887 and Cyril in 1892. Osborne attended Elsmore Public School and Cyril went to Ashford School. The family had moved to their property at Delungra NSW when the boys enlisted in 1915.
Osborne, who had completed a four year apprenticeship in Carpentry, joined the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 12th Reinforcement and sailed from Australia on the ship HMAT A72 Beltana in November 1915. He served in Egypt and was Killed in Action at Khuweilfe, Palestine on 3 November 1917. Trooper Johnston is buried at Beersheba War Cemetery, Palestine.
Cyril was a school teacher when he enlisted. Prior to his departure for the War he was given a Farewell at Delungra during which he was presented with a silver inscribed matchbox case. He became a member of the 2nd Battalion, 13th Reinforcement which sailed from Australia for Egypt on HMAT A6 Aeneas in December 1915. During April 1916 he was transferred to the 54th Battalion and sent to France.
Cyril died at the Battle of Fromelles and as his place of burial was unknown, his name was listed on the VC Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial at Fromelles. During 2008 when a mass grave was discovered in Pheasant Wood, Cyril’s remains were among those identified and reburied in 2010 in the new Fromelles Military Cemetery. His silver matchbox was found with his remains.
The names of the Johnston brothers are recorded on the Inverell Honor Roll. Cyril’s name is also on the new Delungra memorial at Anzac Park and the marble Honour roll at Delungra Public School. Photographs of the two brothers are held by the Australian War Memorial.
Images courtesy Australian War Memorial - Cyril (left) Orborne (right)