Sydney was the son of John and Mary Johnson of Little Plain NSW. His birth was registered at Inverell in 1888. He attended school at Little Plain. When he enlisted at Liverpool NSW in January 1915, he was a twenty six year old Labourer who had been a member of the local Rifle Club for six years. The Inverell Times newspaper, 15 January 1915, recorded that prior to his departure for War service, Sydney’s friends held a farewell function and presented him with a pair of field glasses and a cash donation.
Sydney joined the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 5th Reinforcement and left Australia on the ship HMAT A41 Bakara in May 1915. After arriving in Egypt he was sent to Gallipoli in September 1915, returning to Egypt when all troops were evacuated in December. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1917 and sent to Palestine where he was a Hotchkiss machine gunner. During his time overseas he wrote several letters to friends and family which were published in the Inverell Times newspaper.
Lance Corporal Sydney Johnson was killed in action at Tel El Khuwielfe, Gaza, on 3 November 1917, the day after the Battle of Beersheba. He has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Jerusalem War Memorial in Palestine. His remaining personal possessions were forwarded to his mother and included a fountain pen, sheepskin jacket, silk flag, pipe, balaclava cap and scissors.
At Little Plain Sydney’s name was one of twenty four local men recorded on the Rifle Club’s Honor Board, unveiled in August 1917. The Mt Russell Roll of Honour also bears his name.
Photo: Australian War Memorial image PO9113.003