16 January 2016
Captain William Young
This is truly an international story.
It began with an inquiry from Mr Gordon Knight to Australia House in London. Gordon lives in Ireland and had a 1914-15 Star awarded to Captain William Young who served in the AIF. This link is to an article that recently appeared in the Belfast Telegraph about this officer which explains the full story (make sure you scroll all the photos). However, it is also worth explaining the process we went through to get this great result.
The staff at Australia House forward Gordon's inquiry to Major Garrath Williams who in turn contacted Major Tim Dawe who is a great researcher and worked with me on many other cases. Tim also included me conversation and this is what we were able to piece together about William.
Captain William Young was a 39 year old veterinary surgeon who enlisted in the AIF in 1914.
William's father was Robert Young and he is listed as living in Ballymoney County, Atrium, Ireland. He graduated from Edinburgh's Royal School of Veterinary Studies (Dick College). The first evidence we can find of William in Australia is in 1912 when he was living in Fremantle. Then in 1913 he was in the town of Wyndham. From his service record we could see that his appointment in the AIF was terminated in 1916 when he was in England. There is no evidence that he returned to Australia at all. We also determined that he was unmarried so there was unlikely to be any family in Australia to return the medal to, which was Gordon's goal.
A key piece of information that Tim discovered was that William and two other men named Young from Market Street, Ballymoney are listed here on the Trinity Church Memorial. Using the 1911 census records it was established that they were all from the same family.
Tim also engaged some other researchers on the Great War Forum and established that William's father:
'Robert Young of Market Street, Ballymoney is listed as a timber merchant in the 1901 and 1911 Census. Later trade lists change this to hardware then builder and ironmonger. In the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland there is a set of business records for an R&J Young Builders of Ballymoney dating 1880-1971. A strong chance this is the same family. It also appears a number of the family listed in the 1901 and 1911 Census signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912.'
In addition: 'Robert Steele Young, Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps listed in the same Church Honour Roll as William appears to be William’s brother born 1868'.
Robert was a Doctor working in Eccles, Lancashire and is recorded there (as unmarried) in the 1911 Census. Records indicate that he was educated at Coleraine Academical Institute and Edinburgh University (Medical) and joined East Lancashire Field Ambulance (Territorial Force) as Lieutenant September 1914, promoted May 1915 to Captain. In December 1917 he was gazetted Captain in Territorial Force Reserve, Royal Army Medical Corps. He does not appear to have served overseas.'
Tim also found the following out from the records of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons that William graduated from Dick College on 17 July 1896 and commenced work with the Agricultural Department in Perth, Australia on 25 April 1912. The card also indicates that from 5 April 1924 he was removed from the RCVS list as it was believed he was no longer practicing as a vet. Further investigation by Tim discovered that William travelled to the United States in 1917 and his address in 1940 was 216 West 100th St, New York City. The census shows him as retired but there is no evidence of when he died.
All this information gives a bit more context to Gordon's search to return the medal to the family. He tells us that it came as something of a surprise that he returned the medal locally rather than to a family member in Australia.
The returned medal tally is now 1762.