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The great grandfathers grandfather; a far ancestor; or forefather.

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1915-1969 Keith Thomas JOHNSTON of Birregurra

Birth Name Keith Thomas JOHNSTON
Known As Pa Johnston
Birth Date 18 May 1915
Birth Place Birregurra, Victoria, Australia
Death Date 27 July 1969
(age 54 years)
Death Place Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia
Cause of Death Arteriosclerosis (Heart Attack)
Cremation Date 30 July 1969
Cremation Place Fawkner, Victoria, Australia
Burial Place 6th Avenue Cross of Roses (Cross)




Marriage of Keith and Jean

Husband 1915-1969 Keith Thomas JOHNSTON of Birregurra
(age 26 years)
Wife 1918-1972 Jean BROWNE of Canterbury, Australia
(age 23 years)
Marriage Date 30 April 1942
Marriage Place St Marks Church of England, Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia
Son Laurence JOHNSTON
Son 1946-1980 Barry Raymond JOHNSTON of Hurstbridge
Son 1949-2007 Neil Alexander JOHNSTON of Hurstbridge

Keith's Life

Keith Thomas JOHNSTON was born in Birregurra on 18th May 1915; The 3rd child, and only son, of Arthur Thomas JOHNSTON and Eliza Ethel JOHNSTON (formerly ENNIS). Keith spent his first few years of life in Birregurra before moving to Cressy and then Little River. Later the family moved to Hurstbridge and then Panton Hill.

Keith worked as an Orchardist as early as 1937 in Panton Hill and helped out at the Cracknell Orchards in Panton Hill. He also worked as a shearer on his father Arthur's sheep farm when they lived at Little River. He played Australian Rules Football and cricket. His best friend was Colin ROGERS; Colin married Keith's sister Joyce.

The Advertiser newspaper records that Keith was playing cricket for the Hurstbridge Imperials on 18th March 1939 in the grand final. The newspaper records the event as “Under a cloudy sky at Queenstown last Saturday, Hurstbridge Imperials went in to bat against Hurstbridge in the grand final. The Imperials still had two men at the wicket when the stumps were drawn owing to the light becoming bad. The scoring was particularly slow during the innings. Scores: IMPERIALS 9/143. Cecil VERSO 11, L BERTRAND 14, Jack PIMM 3 (played for Collingwood Football Club), Harry PILL 5, Keith JOHNSTON 2, Alan CUMMINGS 15, R CUMMINGS 1, H SUTHERLAND 6, Hector BELOT 0, R CUMMINGS 73 not out, William SAVILLE 2 not out, Sundries 14. Richard (Dick) SMITH was the most successful bowler and took 4/29”

The Advertised newspaper records that Keith was playing football for the Plenty Rovers and transferred to Hurstbridge on 26th May 1939. The newspaper records the event as “A meeting of the above was held at Greensborough on Monday. The committee approved of the clearances of B BIDDELL, Greensborough to Fawkner, P BOURKE, Plenty Rovers to Hurstbridge, Keith JOHNSTON, Plenty Rovers to Hurstbridge.”

Keith's mother Eliza Ethel (formerly ENNIS) died on 18th August 1939 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

Keith enlisted in the Royal Australian Army on 16th November 1939 and joined the 2nd AIF 6th Division Special Forces as a Corporal. He was posted to the 2nd 8th Infantry Battalion at Puckapunyal on 21st November 1939. He was 24 years and 6 months old when he joined. His enlistment record states that he had black hair and brown eyes.

Keith left Australia on 14th April 1940 and arrived in Kantara Egypt on 18th May 1940. He was appointed Leiutenant Sergeant on 7th June 1940.

Keith was admitted to Camp Reception on 5th July 1940 with Influenza and discharged to duty on 7th July 1940. He fought in Kilo 89, Bir Salim, Alexandria, Greece, and the Middle East. He was trained at No 12 Mortar and Grenade and Middle East Weapons Training school.

Keith fought in Greece from 31st March 1941 until 29th May 1941 when he was evacuated for catching Chicken Pox. He was discharged to the 19 Australian Infantry Battalion on 17th June 1941.

Keith contracted Tonsilitis on 4th July 1941 and was discharged from the convalescence hospital on 11th August 1941 to 19th Australian Infantry Battalion. Keith then transferred to the 98th Battalion on 1st September 1941.

On the 2nd November 1941 Keith had a disagreement with his A/CO and cited with “Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline” and was “severely reprimanded by A/CO of the 2nd 8th Battalion”.

Keith was promoted to Acting Sergeant of 2nd 8th Battalion on 18th January 1942. He embarked on the “Aronda” on 13th February 1942 and arrived in Australia on 29th March 1942 (almost 2 years after leaving Australia). Keith's rank of Sergeant was confirmed on 26th February 1942.

Keith married Jean BROWNE on 30th April 1942 while on leave in Australia. They married on 30 April 1942 at St Marks Church of England, Hurstbridge.

After getting married Keith returned to duty in the Northern Territory Force School No 2 Carrier Course on 3rd of June 1942. He then attended the No 12 Map Reading School NT Force. On 16th June 1943 he transferred to Victoria, then to Queensland on 5th August 1943.

Keith travelled to Cairns on 7th November 1944 and then to New Guinea on 12th November 1944 with 2nd 8th Battalion. Keith fought in New Guinea and was promoted to Warrant Office class 2 on 31st July 1945. He transferred to Wewak on 28th August 1945 and disembarked from S.S. Gorgan at Sydney on 4th September 1945.

Keith discharged from the Army on 2nd October 1945 at Royal Park. His discharge papers record him as being 30 years old, and 5ft 6in tall with brown eyes, dark hair, and dark complexion. He served for 2153 days of which 961 were active service in Australia and 1017 were active service out of Australia. He was awarded war badges for the Middle East from 14th April 1940 to 29th March 1942 being 715 days, and Aitape from 7th November 1944 to 4th September 1945 being 302 days.

Keith served in Palestine, Egypt, Crete, Greece, Libya, Syria, Suez, and New Guinea and gained the rank of Warrant Officer class 2 before being discharged at the end of the war.

Keith's diary records his service as: Palestine 20-5-40, Egypt 18-10-40, Libia 1-1-41, Greece 2-4-41, Palestine 12-5-41, Syria 4-10-41, Palestine 28-1-42, Port Suez 13-2-42.

Keith's father Arthur was a greengrocer in Panton Hill as late as 1954 and operated from the Panton Hill General Store on Main Road in Panton Hill. Keith probably learned his trade as a greengrocer from his father. Keith's father Arthur remarried to Alice Beatrice CRACKNELL on 29th May 1944 (while Keith was still off at war) and they were living on Main Road in Panton Hill.

So it seems Keith went off to war just after his mother had died and by the time he returned from the war his father had remarried. Keith and Arthur did not see eye-to-eye on some things. Particularly, Arthur was a Methodist and didn't drink alcohol, whereas Keith liked to drink beer and became a worshipper at St Marks, Church of England in Hurstbridge instead of continuing the strong family tradition of Methodism that had been in the family ever since John JOHNSTON emigrated from Ireland in 1855.

After the war Keith worked as a greengrocer with his father Arthur at Panton Hill. And was then running his own greengrocery business in Hurstbridge from Anzac Avenue. He purchased a greengrocery in Main Road Hurstbridge from Colin ROGERS on 15th April 1955; Colin had purchased the property on 19th June 1950 at which time Colin was recorded as a farmer but he was actually a builder. Joyce ran the greengrocery and Colin continued on as a builder.

Colin ROGERS and the PEPPER brothers built Keith's house in Anzac Avenue, Hurstbridge. There was an old house on the property that was demolished to build the new house.

Keith captained Panton Hill in football.

Keith and Jean and children lived in Anzac avenue until 1955 when they moved to the house adjoining the shop in Main Road Hurstbridge.

Keith's father Arthur died on the 8th April 1956 from stomach cancer. Arthur had always smoked a pipe and this may have contributed to his death.

Keith operated his greengrocery from the shop in Main Road until his death in 1969. Keith would service all the shops in the area with fresh vegetables, including his uncle Erskine and auntie Martha KILPATRICK's store at Mernda. Dot WALLIS (formerly KILPATRICK), Keith's cousin, remembered Keith and my father (Laurence) making deliveries to her parent's shop when she was a child. My father remembers many trips with his father Keith in his father's truck from Hurstbridge to the Vic Markets in the early morning to purchase the produce for the day and bring it back to the shop and unload it.

Keith and Jean had four children; Laurence Keith (1943), Barry Raymond (1946), Neil Alexander (1949) and Graeme David (1953).

Keith enjoyed his sports, was a keen gardener, and loved growing roses. There was a Johnston trophy at the Hurstbridge football club for many years.

Keith died at home on 27th July 1969 from a heart attack aged 54 years. He was cremated and buried in Fawkner crematorium on 30th July 1969 in the 6th Avenue Cross of Roses.

Jean inherited the greengrocery when Keith died, however she sold it to Peter McDOUGALL & ASSOCIATES on the 1st October 1971.

Information about Keith


Description Christmas at Arthur Johnston's Keith and family at Little River
Date Christmas 1933 est 1937
Location Arthur Johnston's Property at Little River Arthur Johnston's Property at Little River
Description Keith and wife Jean at Eric O'Donnells Keith and son Laurence
Date 1939 1943
Location 21 Boston Avenue, East Malvern, Victoria, Australia 21 Boston Avenue, East Malvern, Victoria, Australia
Description Keith leaving for War. Noel, Arthur, Jean BROWNE, Keith, Jean, May, Joyce Keith returning from War. Arthur, May, Jean, Keith, Jean (BROWNE), Joyce, Eric, Neil, Noel, Janice, Patricia
Date 1939 1945
Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Description Sandy CUMMINGS, Peter CUMMINGS, Laurence, Keith at Portarlington Best mates, Colin ROGERS and Keith JOHNSTON
Date maybe Christmas 1953 abt 1935
Location Portarlington, Victoria, Australia Cracknells Orchard Panton Hill
Description Keith and Jean Keith JOHNSTON
Date 1942 1942
Location probably BROWNE farm, Hurstbridge probably BROWNE farm, Hurstbridge
Description Keith JOHNSTON stuck on a beer label Keith JOHNSTON
Date before 1943 abt 1943
Location Unknown Unknown
Description Keith Thomas JOHNSTON returning from War (uncle George's car “bluey”)
Date 1945
Locatioon Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Description Keith, George, Jean (BROWNE), Eric, Jean, May Laurence, Keith, Jean, and Barry JOHNSTON
Date 1965 1947
Location Keith's 50th, Laurie and Jean SCARLETT, East Bentleigh Cherry Tree Road, Panton Hill
Description Memorial for Keith and Jean JOHNSTON Keith Johnston war medals
Date 1969 and 1972 1945
Location 6th Avenue Cross of Roses, Fawkner Memorial Park, Fawkner, Victoria, Australia N/A

Referencing Pages

public/1915/keith_thomas_johnston/start.txt · Last modified: 2023-09-24 12:22 by

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