b. 14/08/1892 High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. d. 07/07/1917 Hill 60, Belgium.
Frederick Youens (1892-1917) was born at The Marsh, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire on 14th August 1892. His father, Vincent, was a basket maker and later a hotel porter. His mother, Lizzie nee Russell, had a son from a previous relationship, who later changed his name to Youens. They married on 23rd September 1888 at High Wycombe. Frederick was one of seven children born between 1888 and 1901.
Frederick was educated at the National and Royal Grammar Schools in High Wycombe. He was at the Grammar School from 1906-1911 after winning a scholarship. There he was a prominent member of the school debating society, the Officer Training Corps and took part in amateur dramatics. He was also a noted swimmer, and passed the Junior and Senior Oxford Locals and the London Matriculation in the first division in 1910. In 1912 he was assistant schoolmaster at St Peter’s School, Rochester and before enlisting he was a teacher at Chalvey Junior School, Slough, Berkshire. He gained a scholarship to go to Oxford.
He enlisted as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps at Chatham on 5th September 1914 and joined F Company, RAMC, School of Instruction at Aldershot the next day. He transferred to 7th East Surrey on 12th May 1915 and went to France on 1st June and received a gunshot wound to his right arm whilst attending to the wounded at Loos on 13th October. He was treated at 23rd General Hospital, Etaples and was evacuated to England on HMHS Dieppe on 22nd/23rd October. It took him a year to recover, during which he applied for a commission in the East Surrey Regiment on 30th May 1916. He served with 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, East Surrey from 28th July 1916, based at Kingston upon Thames, Dover and Hertford. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and Acting Corporal by October. He joined No 9 Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes on 5th October, and was commissioned into 13th Durham Light Infantry on 24th January 1917 and was posted to France.
On 7th July 1917 near Hill 60, Belgium, it was reported that the enemy were preparing to raid the British trenches and Second Lieutenant Youens, who had already been wounded, immediately set out to rally a Lewis gun team which had become disorganised. While doing this an enemy bomb fell on the Lewis gun position without exploding. The second lieutenant picked it up and hurled it over the parapet, but soon after another bomb fell near the same place and again he picked it up, but it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and some of his men. The officer later succumbed to his wounds.
He died at 70th Field Ambulance and was buried in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Zillebeke, Belgium. As he never married, the VC was presented to his mother by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th August 1917. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The medals were sold at auction twice and were purchased for £4,900 by the Regiment. The VC is held by the Durham Light Infantry and is currently in storage following the closure of the Regimental Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DURHAM LGT INFANTRY MUSEUM, DURHAM. (closed)
BURIAL PLACE: RAILWAY DUGOUTS BURIAL GROUND, BELGIUM.
PLOT I, ROW O, GRAVE 3.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Youens VC Medal at the now closed Durham Light Infantry Museum.