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  • Peter Johnstone: Fallen Fife Football Hero

    Peter Johnstone: Fallen Fife Football Hero

    By: Newsroom Staff on 16 Jun, 2014 09:31

  • A GROUP has been set up in the Fife area of Benarty to remember and honour fallen Fife War hero and former Celt Peter Johnstone.

    The group is made up of local people from the villages of Ballingry, Lochore, Crosshill and Glengraig, known locally as the Benarty Area.

    Chairman of the Group, Kevin Payne, said “Peter Johnstone was killed while serving his country during World War One and, sad to say, he has become a forgotten hero.

    “A group of local people, together with our local Councillor, Willie Clarke, approached our local Community Education Worker, Michael Payne, and asked for his assistance in doing something that would honour Peter’s memory and to give him the recognition he deserves.

    "Councillor Clarke raised a motion at a meeting of Fife Council asking for the Council to support the work of the Group and this was passed unanimously.”

    Fife Provost and former Dunfermline Athletic player and manager, Jim Leishman also has pledged his support to the cause.

    Centre-half and utility man, Peter Johnstone, was the best-known Celtic player to have fallen in the Great War. (pictured above, back row, third from right).

    Coal miner, Peter, who was brought up in the Fife mining village of Glencraig, signed for Celtic in January 1908 from Glencraig Celtic, after spells with Buckhaven and Kelty Rangers. He made his debut in April the following year, the first of 223 appearances for Celtic, playing a starring role in Willie Maley`s great side.

    Johnstone was an idol of the Celtic faithful and was a deserved recipient of such an accolade when he lifted his first Scottish Cup medal after the final with Clyde in 1912.

    In season 1913/14, with Peter at the centre of defence, Celtic only conceded 14 goals in all. His medal haul was four Championships, two Scottish Cups, three Glasgow Cups and four Charity Cups.

    In March 1916, Peter signed up to the Army, from a recruiting station outside Celtic Park and in May, was recruited to the 14th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and latterly the 6th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.

    He would play his last match for Celtic on October 7 1916, earning himself another winner’s medal, as Celtic defeated Clyde 3-2 in the Glasgow Cup final.

    Just seven months later, Private Peter Johnstone, lost his life during the Battle of Arras, which was fought on May 15-16, 1917, a tragic and true loss to the Celtic faithful.

    A dedication to his memory is inscribed on Bay 8 of the Arras Memorial in the Fauborg d’Amiens Cemetery.

    Unfortunately, Peter`s name has all but been forgotten in his home area and, therefore, in recognition of Peters’ ultimate sacrifice in the First World War and his commitment and dedication to Celtic Football Club, the Peter Johnstone Memorial Committee, was formed in March 2014.

    The Committee, backed by the Ballingry Celtic Supporters' Club, aims to provide a permanent memorial garden in honour of the former Celt.

    Appropriately, the memorial garden will be positioned at the entrance to the former Glencraig Colliery, where he went worked from the age of 13.

    The Group have set up a website dedicated to their appeal and this can be found on www.lochore.org.uk and donations can be made from the site.

    Secretary of the Group, Rodger Cassidy added. “One unexpected benefit has been that we have been able to reunite Peter’s descendants in Fife with other members of the family throughout the UK.”

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