2nd Lieutenant Frank Young VC

Frank Young was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, for his actions in the fighting following the Battle of Havrincourt, 1918, in which he lost his life following several hours of hand to hand combat.

Frank Young was born in India in 1895, where his Father was serving as a Colour Sergeant. The family returned to England in 1902 and moved to Hitchin when Frank was 14.

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There he joined the Hitchin Company of the Hertfordshire Regiment Territorial Force as a boy bugler and in 1911 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 was keen on all things mechanical and had already gained a reputation for working well with explosives. During the war he trained as a bombing instructor and with the Royal Flying Corps. Unfortunately a crash left him badly shaken and he rejoined the Hertfordshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in September 1918. On the 18th of that month, Frank was leading No. 4 company near a copse called Triangle Wood, south east of the village of Havrincourt. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on that day, described here by Major Clarke, writing to Frank’s parents:

“Yesterday afternoon the enemy attacked the Battalion in force. 2nd Lieut. Young was largely instrumental in saving No. 4 Company’s front. The enemy came down one trench. Frank bombed them out himself. A little later he rescued one of our men who had been taken prisoner. He knocked down one of this lot of the enemy with his fist and scattered the rest, so that our men got away. Later, he was found to be missing. All the men of No. 4 Company say they have never seen anything finer than Frank’s work that afternoon. He was magnificent. Always the best bomber of No. 4 Company, he showed that he had not lost his skill. He impressed everyone during the few days he was with us.”

Frank’s body was recovered on the 27th September and despite surviving four hours of hand to hand combat, he had been killed instantaneously by a shrapnel wound to the head. He was 22 years old. Frank is buried in Hermies Hill British Cemetery in France. 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”.