Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remembrance Sunday

Via Western Rifle Shooters Association

Two friends, photographed one after the other in front of an improvised sheet backdrop, somewhere in Northern France, probably Noeux-les-Mines, 1914. Both recently promoted to sergeant in the 1st/1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, a territorial regiment that went over to France in the British Expeditionary Force of 1914, the so-called "Old Contemptibles" who fought at the retreat from Mons.

This is my grandfather, Douglas William Chisholm, a bookbinder, who moved from Edinburgh to the Elephant & Castle in London, and then to Letchworth in Hertfordshire to work at the Temple Press of the publishing firm J.M. Dent.

This is his friend, Frank Edward Young, also of North Hertfordshire. Eventually, as the army ran out of proper gentlemen, Douglas and Frank were both promoted to 2nd Lieutenant -- "temporary gentlemen", as such promotions were known. Amusingly, the form for admission to officer training asks, amongst other things, for "Schools or Colleges at which educated" and "Whether able to ride". Grandad's answers were "Sayer Street, Southwark" and "No".

Frank won a medal, in the last year of the war. His citation reads:
On 18 September 1918 south-east of Havrincourt, France, during an enemy counter-attack and throughout intense enemy fire, Second Lieutenant Young visited all posts, warned the garrisons and encouraged the men. In the early stages of the attack he rescued two of his men who had been captured and bombed and silenced an enemy machine-gun. Then he fought his way back to the main barricade and drove out a party of the enemy assembling there. Throughout four hours of heavy fighting this officer set a fine example and was last seen fighting hand-to-hand against a considerable number of the enemy.
The medal was the Victoria Cross. Frank died, aged 22, and is buried at Hermies Hill British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais.

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