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Thomas Young

66875 Private

59th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 59th Infantry Brigade, 20th Division

Age: 21

Date of Death: 16.8.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 154 to 159

Family history: Son of the late Lewis E Young and Jane Young, Grange Cottage, Church Street, Bonnybridge. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a blacksmith at the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company. He was member of the Bonnybridge UF Church Choir and played football with Bonnybridge Victoria Football Club.

The action leading to his death

The 20th Division was involved in the Third Ypres and the phase known as the Battle of Langemarck. Numerous local raids had provided bridgeheads across the Steenbeek along much of the front, including at Au Bon Gite, a blockhouse on the Langemarck road some 200 yards beyond the stream which still held out. To the right of the Ypres to Staden railway 20th Division had the desolation and ruins of Langemarck in front of them and they had to pass through or go round the ruins to reach their ultimate objective the Langemarck - Gheluvelt Line. The ruins of Langemarck were to be attacked by the 60th Brigade, to the right, and the 61st Brigade, to the left, of the 20th Division. They were to be supported by a divisional artillery barrage of 108 field guns, 36 4.5” howitzers, 24 heavy guns of the heavy artillery. Close support would be provided by the Trench Mortars and machine gun companies. The attack was to be carried out in stages with three designated objectives. The 59th Brigade provided two specially trained companies from the 11th Rifle Brigade who were to attack the blockhouse of Au Bon Gite.

(Linesman Map)

The Germans shelled the assembly areas from 4am and then at 4.45am the British barrage opened. The two companies from the 59th Brigade, supported by low flying aircraft which machine gunned the blockhouse and the use of smoke to distract the defenders and cover their attack, successfully took the blockhouse with one officer and fifty other ranks as prisoners.

The 59th Brigade machine gun company put down their supporting barrage for the main attack and the War Diary reports that the casualties were ‘3 OR’s killed, 2 Officers wounded (Lt’s Moor and Wilson), and 14 OR’s wounded. They had fired 90,000 rounds in support of the assault.

In a letter to his mother, Lt Wilson, officer commanding No.2 section and who was wounded but continued to command and indeed took over command of the wounded No.1 section from Lt Moor, wrote: ‘I am afraid I have some bad news for you, and hope you will take it as bravely as possible. I regret to say that early on the 16th your son, Pte T Young, was killed in action during the recent advance. Death was instantaneous, and we buried him close to the place he lost his life. Our commanding officer sent up a cross, with all the proper details on it, and I placed it on his grave.

He went on to give a flavour of the action: ‘The shelling was awful; the wonder is any of us came out alive. The officer of the other section was wounded, and I had a piece of my face removed, but luckily it wasn’t bad.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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