Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Second Lieutenant Frank Edward Young V.C., 1st Battalion, the Hertfordshire Regiment, was killed in action near Havrincourt in France.
The son of a soldier formerly in the Bedfordshire Regiment, Second Lieutenant Young joined the Hertfordshire Regiment (part-time Territorial Force) as a boy bugler when he was fourteen years old. Two years later he began working at the local power station, his ambition being to become an electrical engineer.
Within months of his battalion being mobilised after the outbreak of the Great War he was promoted to the rank of sergeant (hence the photo above), and fought at the Battle of Festubert and the Battle of Loos with his father, C.S.M. Frank Young (who would be Mentioned in Despatches for his actions during the latter battle). In April of 1917 Second Lieutenant Young received his commission. He had spent time serving as a bombing instructor, and also took training with the Royal Flying Corps.
On the day of his death he was in command of No. 4 Company at Triangle Wood, south-east of Havrincourt village. The enemy made an unexpected counter attack, and Second Lieutenant Young’s actions earned him the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. His citation reads in part: “"For most conspicuous bravery, determination and exceptional devotion to duty…throughout an extremely intense enemy barrage he visited all posts, warned the garrisons and encouraged the men…he rescued two of his men who had been captured, and bombed and silenced an enemy machine gun. Although surrounded by the enemy, 2nd Lt. Young fought his way back to the main barricade and drove out a party of the enemy. By his further exertions the battalion was able to maintain a line of great tactical value, the loss of which would have meant serious delay to future operations. Throughout four hours of intense fighting 2nd Lt. Young displayed the utmost valour and devotion to duty, and set an example to which the company gallantly responded.”
Second Lieutenant Young was last seen fighting hand-to-hand with what was described as “a considerable number” of the enemy. His was listed as missing in action, his body not being found until nine days later by soldiers from the Manchester Regiment. It was determined that he had been killed by a shrapnel wound to his head. The soldiers buried him where he was found, and several months later he was moved to the Hermies Hill British Cemetery – on his headstone are the words, “There is no gain except by loss. There is no life except by death.” He is commemorated on the war memorial in St. Mary’s Churchyard in Hitchin in Hertfordshire.
Frank, born in India and raised in Hitchin, was 23 years old