Arthur Thomas Johnston was a Langley shopkeeper who died in Europe in 1916. The special bronze plaque sent to his family after he war is known as a Dead Man’s Penny. (Langley Centennial Museum)

Arthur Thomas Johnston was a Langley shopkeeper who died in Europe in 1916. The special bronze plaque sent to his family after he war is known as a Dead Man’s Penny. (Langley Centennial Museum)

REMEMBRANCE DAY: ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ a reminder of Langley man’s First World War sacrifice

The Langley Centennial Museum collection includes two bronze plaques sent to families of war dead

The Langley Centennial Museum is spotlighting its collection of artifacts related to the community’s involvement in wars.

A circular bronze plaque nicknamed a Dead Man’s Penny or Blood Penny came to the local museum by way of the West Vancouver Legion which found it among its possessions.

The plaque bears the name Arthur Thomas Johnston.

The commemorative plaque was sent to the family of the Langley store owner who fought and died in the First World War after he died.

In early 1914, with war not yet declared, Murrayville storekeeper Art Johnston had helped to organize and train a group of military-minded men known as the “Langley Volunteers.”

Many of these men went on to service in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

• READ MORE: Dead Man’s Penny found in Fort Langley home

Johnston received his commission in May 1916, in the 102nd (Comox-Atlin) Battalion, according to the local museum. On June 27, 1916, he sailed from Halifax, where he had found out he was promoted to major. On September 2, 1916, Johnston was near Ypres, waiting with his company in the reserve trenches, ready to go forward. He came out of his dugout to take a look over the edge of his parapet at the exact moment a sniper was trained in his direction. He was killed instantly when the bullet hit his head. He was buried at Reninghelst.

Born in Ontario, Johnston wasin the South African (Second Boer) War and with the B.C. Provincial Police in Kamloops. In 1911, he started operating a store beneath the original Murrayville Hall, according to museum records. His wife, Jessie Jane Johnston, operated a hat store next door.

More than 1.3 million of these ‘pennies’ were sent to the families of dead soldiers. The medallions were memorial plaques issued after World War I to the next-of-kin of killed British Empire service personnel.

After the war, Langley streets were renamed for those who had lived here and been killed in the war. The Johnston Townline Road was named after him (now 216 Street through Milner and Murrayville).

As well, trees were planted along the renamed street in honour of the men, and Johnston’s tree still stands at the corner of 216 Street and Glover Road in Milner. Several years ago, the Langley Heritage Society placed markers at the bases of the remaining trees in commemoration.

The museum also has a ‘penny’ in the name of Langley’s Francis Hubert Read.


Got a news tip?

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Langley TownshipRemembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Nice to see traumas of war now recognized as disabilities

Langley man remembers Second World War and it impact on surviving soldiers

A rendering of the planned seniors housing apartment complex. (Langley Township/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Hospital Foundation plans seniors housing in Murrayville

The project will make 30 per cent of units affordable, if approved

Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham and Dr. Richard Sawatzky were inducted into an elite fellowship with the Canadian Academy of Nursing. (TWU/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Nursing profs inducted into national academy

Canadian Nurses Association honours the country’s most accomplished nursing leaders, two from TWU

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

An RCMP officer got more than bargained for when stopping a vehicle with a broken brake light. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley RCMP puts the brakes on pair found with drugs, knife and cash

The passenger was wanted on a warrant, and the driver faces various changes.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

Most Read