A Tale of Christmas

Date
20 December 2017 12:00

On Christmas Day 1886, Mr and Mrs Johns from Wales received a lovely present - a baby boy, who they appropriately named Christmas.

At the age of 18, having worked as a miner in the Welsh coalfields, Christmas Johns enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a Private. Although not wounded in action during World War One, he developed dysentery in 1915 and was ill for eight months. During convalescence his eyesight started to fail, but he was sufficiently sighted to return to his regiment until he was discharged from the Army in October 1918.

Five months later, with his sight having deteriorated further, he was admitted to our hostel, St Dunstan’s Lodge, in Regent’s Park for rehabilitation and training.

At Regent’s Park, Christmas learnt to read and write in Braille, to type, and was also trained in boot repairing, mat making and netting. In addition, his wife attended workshops to learn how to use a boot patching machine. Christmas would have undertaken his boot-repairing in the grounds of Regent’s Park in one of our workshops, as shown below. It’s possible that he’s even in the picture!

Black and white photo of rehabilitation and training workshop at St Dunstan’s Lodge in Regent's Park

After leaving our hostel in 1921, Christmas went on to make a living repairing boots. Unfortunately, life became increasingly harder as his health began to deteriorate. Sadly, in December 1927 and at the age of just 40, Christmas passed away.

We do not know the name of his wife but think it would have been wonderful if she had been called Carol…

Does anyone have any more information on Christmas Johns?  Perhaps a photo of him?  If so please contact our Archivist, Rob: Rob.baker@blindveterans.org.uk.