November 7, 2023

Image: An excerpt from the medical notes in Private Johnston’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 18514
Rank: Private
Branch: 9th Battalion

Norman was born in Goderich, Ontario on March 14, 1887. He came across the Edson Trail in 1912 with his father, David Alexander Johnston, and five brothers. Norman enlisted in the Canadian army in September of 1914. Three of his brothers – William Earl, Willis David, and Charles Bell – also served overseas. On April 22, 1915, Norman was at the front for the Second Battle of Ypres. On April 23, he suffered a gunshot wound to his chest, which fractured his rib and punctured his left lung. Norman was reported missing on May 11, 1915, though on July 13 a letter he had written to his sister was published in the Grande Prairie Herald. He had been taken prisoner and hospitalized in Germany from April 24 until June 30. From that point on he was a prisoner of war and held at Camp Roeselare and Stendal. Norman was released when the war ended and arrived back in England on January 2, 1919. In April he returned to Canada and traveled back to his homesteads in the South Peace (23-71-3-W6 and 25-71-3-W6). He moved to Edmonton in May of 1928 to work as a plainclothes detective. Charles died in Edmonton on August 8, 1942 and was buried in the military section of the Edmonton cemetery.

Source: Centennial Celebration Edson Trail p. 113; Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 18

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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