b. 02/10/1895 Cheerat, India. d. 18/09/1918 Havrincourt, France.
Frank Edward Young (1895-1918) was born on the 2nd October 1895, at Cheerat in the North West Province, India. As his father, also called Frank Young, was a regular soldier, it is likely he was serving in the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment who were stationed there at the time. His father was at the rank of Colour Sergeant at the time.
The family returned to England in 1902 and moved later to Hitchin, Hertfordshire. When Frank’s schooling in England finished, he joined the part time Territorial Force’s Hertfordshire Regiment as a Boy Bugler on the 15th November 1909, aged 14. He served in the Hitchin Company which would later become D Company or No.4 Company once they adopted the Guards’ Company structure. In 1911 he joined the staff of the local power station with the intention of becoming an electrical engineer.
When war was declared in 1914 Frank was already a private in the Herts Regt Territorial force and he and his father, Frank Young Senior, were mobilised almost immediately. A medical issue prevented Frank from being sent to France that November, but following an operation he was appointed as Sergeant to the 2nd battalion. By 1915, Frank was in France and fought in the battle of Loos alongside his father, the Battalion Sergeant Major, who was mentioned in despatches following the battle.
Frank received a month’s leave early in 1916, as was the custom once a soldier completed his contractual term of military service.
Having earned a reputation as a bomber, he was sent to serve as a Bombing Instructor at the Rouen Central Bombing School but an accident returned him home early in the summer of 1916. After three months in the Cardiff Military Hospital, he was posted to the 3rd/1st Battalion to re-train, who were stationed at Halton Camp near Tring at the time. Some months later he was commissioned as an officer, which was gazetted on the 26th April 1917.
Frank was keen on all things mechanical and had already gained a reputation for working well with explosives. In the spring of 1918 Second Lieutenant Young was posted into the 3rd/5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, who were stationed at Crowborough in Sussex. It appears he was fascinated by the Royal Flying Corps to such a degree that he took six weeks ground training at Reading and moved to Sleaford for practical training. However, a flying accident left him badly shaken and as a result he returned to the Bedfords.
He paid a last visit to his mother in Hitchin in September 1918 before going to the front again, having been posted back to the 1st/1st Hertfordshires as a replacement for the losses during the Battles of Albert and Bapaume in August and September. He rejoined the Hertfords on the 12th September, just as they were engaged in the Battle of Havrincourt during the Battles of the Hindenburg Line.
Frank was put in command of No.4 Company (his old Hitchin Company) who were in the line south east of Havrincourt village, near a copse called Triangle Wood. His last communication home was on a standard field postcard dated 17th September, the day before an unexpected German counter attack hit their lines.
On 18th September 1918 south-east of Havrincourt, France, during an enemy counter-attack and throughout intense enemy fire, Second Lieutenant Young visited all posts, warned the garrisons and encouraged the men. In the early stages of the attack he rescued two of his men who had been captured and bombed and silenced an enemy machine-gun. Then he fought his way back to the main barricade and drove out a party of the enemy assembling there.
Throughout four hours of heavy fighting this officer set a fine example and was last seen fighting hand-to-hand against a considerable number of the enemy.
Second Lieutenant Young was not seen again and he was listed as missing in action. However, on the 27th September a section from the 1st/5th Manchester’s found his body on the edge of Havrincourt Wood. Given how heavily he had been engaged in the fighting, with much of it being hand to hand, it seems ironic that he had been killed by a shrapnel wound to his head. The men buried the body where they found it and marked it with a rough cross, as was the custom with battlefield burials. Some months later his grave was seen by Second Lieutenant Males from Stevenage who arranged to move the body to a more fitting resting place, amongst one of the growing official British Cemeteries.
Frank lies in the Hermies Hill British Cemetery, France 4 km south of the N30 road between Bapaume and Cambrai. He is also remembered on the Hitchin War Memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard, Hitchin in Hertfordshire. His Victoria Cross remained with the family until 1959 when it was bequeathed to the Hertfordshire Regiment, at which time it was presented to the successors to the Regiment at Colchester and held with the Regiment Battle Honours. Later the Regiment lodged it for safekeeping with Luton Museum, which holds many exhibits relating to the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Regiments. Frank’s close friend and fellow serviceman, Douglas Chisholm, would never discuss the VC with his children, except to say “He earned it boy, he earned it”.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:BEDS/HERTS REGIMENTAL MUSEUM. LUTON.
BURIAL PLACE: HERMIES HILL BRITISH CEMETERY, PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE.
PLOT III, ROW B, GRAVE 5.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Malcolm Parker – Images of the Young VC Medal and Young VC Stone in Hitchin.
Paul Deeprose – Image of the Young VC.
Thomas Stewart – Image of Young VC plaque at Lochnagar Crater.