MAJOR JOHNSTON HUGHSTON
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
14TH SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 26
BURIED: SARIGOL MILITARY CEMETERY, KRISTON, GREECE
These words, from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, are spoken by Guiderus over the body of Cloten who he has just killed:
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldy task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Guiderus' brother, Arvirargus, speaks the next lines and together they complete what is now best known as a poem, without the separate speaking parts.
Long before Shelley assuaged his grief for the death of John Keats in his poem Adonais with the assurance that 'He hath awaken'd from the dream of life':
He has outsoar'd the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again.
And Binyon attempted to comfort those mourning the dead of the First World War with the thought that:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grown old:
Age shall not weary them or the years condemn.
Shakespeare was assuring those who mourned that at least nothing could ever hurt the dead again and that they would now never have anything to fear.
Johnston Hughston, also known as John and Jack, was an Australian doctor, a former pupil of Scotch College, newly qualified from the University of Melbourne. Scotch College have a detailed biography of him on their website from which I shall quote.
Johnston and his brother Edward, also a doctor, were among a group on one hundred Australian doctors who went to England in 1915 to help support Kitchener's New Armies. They were all on one year contracts. Johnston joined the 68th Field Ambulance and went with it to Salonika in October 1915. In April 1916 his contract with the army came up but he signed on again.
In May 1918 he went home to Australia for a few weeks in order to recover from malaria. He returned to the Salonika front and on 3 August was wounded in the chest by a shell fragment. He spent a month in hospital before returning to the front when he was again hit by shrapnel whilst visiting some advanced dressing stations. Although he was with another doctor who immediately did what he could, and was despatched to hospital as quickly as possible, he died nineteen hours later.
His mother chose his inscription, but added to the War Grave Commission records the comment that he was 'A young Australian who freely gave his life when duty called'. Johnston Hughston was one of eight of the original hundred doctors to die.