Alexander Young VC

b. 27/01/1873 Clarinbridge, County Galway, Ireland. d. 19/10/1916 The Somme, France.

Alexander Young (1873-1916) was born on 27th January 1873 in Ballinana, Clarinbridge, County Galway, Ireland, the son of William and Annie Young, and younger brother of Joseph Young, JP of Corrib House, Galway. He was educated at Model School, Galway. On 22nd May 1890, he joined the Queen’s Bays at Renmore, where his horsemanship quickly brought him to attention. He served for a time in India, and became a Riding Instructor. In the Sudanese Campaign of 1898, under Kitchener, he saw his first active service. He then returned to Shorncliffe, Kent, and was transferred from there to the Cape Police as Instructor.

Alexander Young VC

He was serving at Williamstown when the Second Boer War broke out. He served throughout the conflict and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps, and the King’s South Africa Medal with clasps. He was also recommended for, and awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 18th November 1901) for his actions on the 13th August 1901.

Towards the close of the action at Ruiter’s Kraal on the 13th August, 1901, Sergeant-Major Young, with a handful of men, rushed some kopjes which were being; held by Commandant Erasmus and about 20 Boers. On reaching these kopjes the enemy were seen galloping back to another kopje held by the Boers. Sergeant-Major Young then galloped on some 50 yards ahead of his party and closing with the enemy shot one of them and captured Commandant Erasmus, the latter firing at him three times at point blank range before being taken prisoner.

He was presented with his medal on 8th August 1902 by the GOC Cape Colony in South Africa. After the war, Sergeant-Major Young returned to his position with the Cape Mounted Police, and remained with them until 1906, and was involved in the Herero Rebellion in German South West Africa. Young served on the border and helped the Germans quell the rebellion, receiving a decoration from the Kaiser. He would later burn the decoration in Cape Town on the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. He was later involved in the Zululand Rebellion, where he was again wounded.

He then decided to leave the Cape Mounted Police, and for the next four years, he farmed in the Natal. On the outbreak of the Great War, he re-enlisted as a Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Cape Mounted Police. He served under Commandant Britz and they fought in German East Africa under Colonel Royston. He was then transferred and promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the 4th South African Mounted Rifles, and fought under General Smuts in German East Africa. After their victory, the Mounted Rifles were demobilised, but soon Smuts was calling for 10,000 volunteers to go to France.

Young was one of the first to volunteer and was accepted by Colonel Jones for a commission in the South African Scottish Regiment which was camped near Aldershot. The Regiment was posted to Egypt, before returning to England. After a short time, they were posted to France ready to be involved in the “Big Push” on the Somme planned for 1st July 1916. He was involved in the first 15 days fighting on the Somme, before being invalided home wounded. He recuperated in Brighton, and once fit, he was returned to the Somme in September 1916.

Tragically, Lieutenant Young was killed in action on 19th October 1916, aged 43 on the Somme. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. His medals are owned by the Ashcroft Trust and part of the Ashcroft gallery in the Imperial War Museum.