OTTAWA, Feb. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian War Museum is pleased to
announce the acquisition of the Victoria Cross awarded to Private John
Francis Young, a Canadian stretcher-bearer with the 87th Infantry
Battalion during the First World War. His extraordinary heroism in the
face of enemy fire saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades.
"The story of John Francis Young illustrates that heroism on the
battlefield takes many forms," said James Whitham, Acting
Director-General of the Canadian War Museum. "Private Young chose to
serve his country unarmed, and was awarded the country's highest honour
for his bravery."
On September 2, 1918, Private Young's company suffered heavy casualties
from German shell and machine gun fire while advancing over a ridge
near Dury in northern France. Despite continuous enemy fire and the
complete absence of cover, Young went to the aid of the wounded,
returning more than once to his company headquarters for more medical
supplies. As noted in his Victoria Cross medal citation, "This work he
continued for over an hour, displaying throughout the most absolute
Later, when the German fire became less intense, Young—then 25 years
old—organized and led stretcher parties to retrieve the wounded men he
John Francis Young was born in England and is believed to have come to
Canada as a young man. He died in Ste-Agathe, Quebec, on November 7,
With this acquisition, the Canadian War Museum now holds 32 of the 94
Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians. The medal is the British
Commonwealth's highest award for military bravery.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada's national museum of military history.
Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada's military
history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.
BACKGROUNDER - John Francis Young, VC
Young was born in Great Britain on January 14, 1893. He was a
22-year-old tobacco packer in Montréal when he joined the 87th
Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on October 20, 1915.
Young served as a stretcher-bearer on the Western Front throughout the
First World War, frequently braving enemy fire to rescue wounded
comrades. He received the Victoria Cross for his exceptional courage in
a battle near the war's end.
On September 2, 1918 Young was part of a Canadian Corps attack on the
German defensive line that ran between the cities of Drocourt and
Quéant in northern France. The attack was part of the Hundred Days
campaign, which saw Canadian soldiers play a lead role in driving back
and defeating the German armies. On this day, however, his battalion
faced stiff German resistance. The Canadians came under heavy
machine-gun and artillery fire from both flanks, and their advance
During the attack, John Francis Young tended to the wounded of his
company which had suffered heavy casualties. Working on open ground
swept by machine gun and rifle fire, he tended to the injured for over
an hour. Several times he left the battlefield to resupply his medical
kit, returning into harm's way for the sake of the wounded. He then
organized his company's stretcher-bearers and led them to the men he
had helped. For at least another hour, he directed the evacuation of
over a dozen men. While leading these efforts, he was injured by the
inhalation of mustard gas present on the battlefield.
For their attack on the German positions, 22 members of the 87th
Battalion received the Military Medal, three were awarded the Military
Cross, and one—John Francis Young—was honoured with the Victoria Cross.
He received the medal from King George V on April 30, 1919, at
After the war Young was demobilized from active service and he returned
to Montréal and the tobacco company where he worked before enlisting.
He also continued for some time with the Militia and reached the rank
of Sergeant. He died on November 7, 1929, in a sanatorium in Ste.
Agathe, Quebec. He was sent there after contracting tuberculosis, an
infection linked to his wartime exposure to mustard gas.
Image with caption: "Victoria Cross Medal Awarded to John Francis Young, VC CWM 20110065-001 - Tilston Memorial Collection of Canadian Military Medals - © Canadian War Museum (CNW Group/Canadian War Museum)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120229_C8542_PHOTO_EN_10614.jpg
SOURCE Canadian War Museum
For further information:
Avra Gibbs Lamey
Communications and Media Relations Officer Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819 776-8607
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819 776-8608
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