Eric Alexander (Sandy) Johnston was born in Sydney, NS, one of three children to Annie May and Robert Ralph Johnston. Eric attended Central School and Sydney Academy. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, skating and hockey. He was in the Cape Breton Highlanders militia prior to World War 2. His trade upon enlistment was stevedore.
Eric joined the Canadian Active Force Cape Breton Highlanders as a private on October 6, 1939 in Sydney, NS. By October, 1941, after advancing through the ranks, he was promoted to sergeant. He sailed to the England with the battalion in November, 1941. While in England, at his own request, Eric reverted back to corporal and then later to private. He sailed to Italy with the rest of the battalion in October/November, 1943.
Eric Johnston was killed in action in Italy on September 1, 1944. The Cape Breton Highlanders were involved in a larger action to breech the heavily fortified German Gothic Line defences located in the mountains on the Adriatic Sector of the Italian Front. On the night of August 31st the Cape Breton Highlanders attacked Mount Marrone, a long sloping feature also called Point 182. By the early morning of September 1st, the position was in their hands. They held the position throughout the day under intense enemy fire. Eric Johnston was killed in this action. A veteran Cape Breton Highlander, Elliston Robertson, recalled that Eric took a direct hit from an armour piercing shell while driving in a jeep. He was 27 years old.
Pte. Eric Johnston is buried in Montecchio War Cemetery, Montecchio, Italy.
For additional information on Eric Johnston, refer to the following online source:
I would like to thank Enid Johnston, Eric Johnston's sister, for allowing me to borrow and copy the photos contained in this collection. I visited her in her home in Sydney, NS, in the 1990's.