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Bruce William Johnston



Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    11 November 1913 AWMM Thames, North Island, New AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 32 Wanganui Avenue, Herne Bay, Auckland AWMM
  • Post war occupation
    Fitter and Turner/Civilian AWMM
    MJ Hooper agricultural machinery factory AWMM
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr William Johnston (father), 32 Wanganui Avenue, Herne Bay, Auckland AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 8 August 1940 Public source Fitter/Military Nom Roll 2
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    WW2 POW - Crete Public source
    Sfakia, Crete Public source
    1 June 1941 AWMM
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
    WW2 14 Apr 1942 {Days 30} Public source
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    • Eye colour, WWII AWMM
      Brown AWMM
    • Complexion, WWII AWMM
      Dark AWMM
    • Height, WWII AWMM
      5 ft 8 in AWMM

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Bruce Johnston was a keen sailor before the war, racing mullet boats ("Arawa", "Nomad" and "Jeanette") and played rugby for Ponsonby RFC as a front row forward, and also for Auckland. He was great pals with the Solomon brothers - Frank and Tom. He was also a fine swimmer winning the 'cross the harbour' race one year. After the war he brought the B class keeler "Kotiri" but sold it to buy an engagement ring for his future wife, Nancy Johnston. Bruce and Nancy raised five children in Henderson (when the Hooper factory relocated there). He became involved with the Waitemata Rugby FC (co coached its first success in winning the Gallagher Shield in 1957) and was a founding member of the Waitemata Athletic Club. He was the grandson of Ngati Kuri chief, Hatarana Whakaruru and had been asked to train to be an officer with the 28th Maori Battalion, but he choose instead to enlist with his Ponsonby mates.

    His time on Crete was significantly mentioned in the war history "On the run: Anzac Escape and evasion in Enemy-occupied Crete" by Sean Damer and Ian Frazer, Penguin, 2006.

    Bruce Johnston died on Anzac weekend 1983, which was also the 100th anniversary of the Auckland RF Union. Public source.

    'German vigilance was intensified, and many craft noticed by their patrols were rendered useless by machine-gun fire. No further New Zealanders got away until April 1942, when a party of nine under a New Zealand sergeant stole a boat and rowed it across the Mediterranean to Derna. The information concerning escapers and evaders thus brought back encouraged further rescue efforts. Sergeant T. Moir (4 Fd Regt) was awarded the DCM for this escape and for his later work with ‘A’ Force. The other New Zealanders in the party were L-Bombardier B. W. Johnston (5 Fd Regt), awarded MM.; 2nd Divisional Artillery - The story of the gunners on Crete, however, does not end here. Some of the men who had served the guns under appalling conditions at Maleme or Galatas or (like the gallant defenders of Pink Hill) had been rock-like in their determination to hold on when the line was crumbling in front of Galatas—some of these men resolutely refused to accept the fate to which the evacuation officials had condemned them. Some made off into the hills at once, as fast as their weak and weary legs would carry them. Others bided their time and escaped, either in Crete or later on the European mainland. The people of Crete saw many of them in the months and years to come and recognised some of them as heroes of the Resistance. Some gunners made their way back by boat to North Africa or by island-hopping in the Aegean to Turkey and elsewhere. A few came to know Crete so well before they left that they were sent back there by the Middle East authorities. Staff-Sergeant Moir of the 4th Field and Bombardier Johnston of the 5th Field organised a party a year later and sailed to Sidi Barrani. Moir, who went back on special service, won the DCM and Johnston the MM.' (Source: Mason, W.W. Prisoners of War. p. 70.; Murphy, W.E. 2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery. p. 165.) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    1983 Public source
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Bruce William Johnston

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  • One of my childhood memories I have of my father concerning his war service was why he was awarded the Military Medal, to which he always replied... "I ran as fast as I could over a field of prickles in my bare feet"! It was only years later we learnt the real reason He was a humble man who served his country gallantly A proud family man whose memory I will always cherish and who lives in my heart forever Robyn Parker (daughter)
    Public - Robyn Marie - Child - 6 April 2017



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  • External links
  • References
    • Murphy, W. (1966). 2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      p.165. AWMM
    • Mason, W.W. (1954) Prisoners of war. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      p.70. AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 2 (Embarkations to 30th June, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      p.97 AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
06 April 2017Robyn MarieAuckland New ZealandChild

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