Frederick Youens VC

Frederick Youens (14/08/1892 – 07/07/1917) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 7 July 1917 near Hill 60, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30215, Page: 7906, reads:

“L.I. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

While out on patrol this officer was wounded and had to return to his trenches to have his wounds dressed. Shortly afterwards a report came in that the enemy were preparing to raid our trenches. 2nd Lt. Youens, regardless of his wound, immediately set out to rally the team of a Lewis Gun, which had become disorganised owing to heavy shell fire. During this process an enemy’s bomb fell on the Lewis Gun position without exploding. 2nd Lt. Youens immediately picked it up and hurled it over the parapet. Shortly afterwards another bomb fell near the same place; again 2nd Lt. Youens picked it up with the intention of throwing it away, when it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and also some of his men. There is little doubt that the prompt and . gallant action of 2nd Lt. Youens saved several of his men’s lives and that by his energy and resource the enemy’s raid was completely repulsed.

This gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds.”

He is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Belgium.

DRW © 2017-2018. Created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

John Kendrick Skinner VC, DCM

John Kendrick Skinner (05/02/1883 – 17/03/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Passchendaele on 18 August 1917 at Wijdendrift, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded by the London Gazette of 14 September 1917, Supplement: 30284, Page: 9533, reads:

No, 6895 Sjt. (Actg. C.S./M.) John Skinner, K.O. Sco. Bord. (Pollokshields, Glasgow.)

For most conspicuous bravery and good leading.

Whilst his company was attacking, machine gun fire opened on the Left flank, delaying the advance. Although C.S./M. Skinner was wounded in the head, he collected six men, .and with great courage and determination worked round the left flank of three blockhouses from which the machine gun fire was coming, and succeeded in bombing and taking the first blockhouse single-handed; then, leading his six men towards the other two blockhouses, he skilfully cleared them, taking sixty prisoners, three machine guns, and two trench mortars. The dash and gallantry displayed by this warrant officer enabled’ the objective to be reached.” 

He was killed in action at Vlamertinghe, Belgium, on 17 March 1918, and is buried Vlamertinghe New Miliitary Cemetery, Belgium.

© DRW 2017-2018, created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. 

John Lynn VC, DCM

John Lynn (1887 – 03/05/1915) while serving as a private in the 2nd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 2 May 1915 near Ypres, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 29210, Page: 6270, reads: 

“No. 1272 Private John Lynn, 2nd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers.

For most conspicuous bravery near Ypres on 2nd May, 1915. When the Germans were advancing behind their wave of asphyxiating gas, Private Lynn, although almost overcome by the deadly fumes, handled his machine gun with very great effect against the enemy, and when he could not see them he moved his gun higher up on the parapet, which enabled him to bring even more effective fire to bear, and eventually checked any further advance.

The great courage displayed by this soldier had a fine effect on his comrades in the very trying circumstances.

He died the following day from the effects of gas poisoning”

He is buried in Grootbeek Cemetery, Belgium. His grave is inscribed “Who was buried at the time in Vlamertinghe but whose grave was destroyed in later battles. “

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 25/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green

Eric Stuart Dougall VC, MC

Eric Stuart Dougall (13/04/1886 – 14/04/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 10 April 1918 at Messines, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30726, Page: 6571 reads:

“Lt (A /Capt) Eric Stuart Dougall, M C , late EFA (S R ).

For most conspicuous bravely and skilful leadership in the field when in command of his battery Captain Dougall maintained his guns in action from early morning throughout a heavy concentration of gas and high-explosive shell. Finding that he could not clear the crest owing to the withdrawal of our line, Captain Dougall ran his guns on to the top of the ridge to fire over open sights. By this time our infantry had been pressed back in line with the guns,  Captain Dougall at once assumed command of the situation, rallied and organised the infantry, supplied them with Lewis guns, and armed as many gunners as he could spare with rifles With these he formed a line in front of his battery which during this period was harassing the advancing enemy with a rapid late of fire.  Although exposed to both rifle and machine gun fire, this officer fearlessly walked about as though on parade, calmly giving orders and encouraging everybody He inspired the infantry with his assurance that “So long as you stick to your trenches I will keep my guns here” This line was maintained throughout the day, thereby delaying the enemy’s advance for over twelve hours.  In the evening, having expended all ammunition, the battery received orders to withdraw.  This was done by man-handling the guns over a distance of about 800 yards of shell-cratered country, an almost impossible feat considering the ground and the intense machine gun fire.

Owing to Captain Dougall’s personality and skillful leadership throughout this trying day there is no doubt that a serious breach in our line was averted This gallant officer was killed four days later whilst directing the fire of his battery.”

He is buried in Westoutre British Cemetery, Heuvelland, Belgium 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 24/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Frederick Birks VC, MM

Frederick Birks (31/08/1894 – 21/09/1917) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 21 September 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30372  Page: 11568 reads:

His Majesty The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Offices, Non-commissioned Officers and Man: —

2nd Lt. Frederick Birks, Late Aust. Imp. Force.

For most conspicuous bravery in attack when accompanied by only a corporal, he rushed a strong point which was holding up the advance. The corporal was wounded by a bomb, but 2nd Lt. Birks went on by himself killed the remainder of the enemy occupying the position, and captured a machine gun.

Shortly afterwards he organised a small party and attacked another strong point which was occupied by about twenty-five of the enemy, of whom many were killed and an officer and fifteen men captured.

During the consolidation this officer did magnificent work in reorganising parties of other units which had been disorganised during the operations.

By his wonderful coolness and personal bravery 2nd Lt. Birks kept his men in splendid spirits throughout. He was killed at his post by a shell whilst endeavouring to extricate some of his men who had been buried by a shell”

He is buried in Perth Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

© DRW 2017-2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Harold Ackroyd VC, MC

Harold Ackroyd (18/07/1877 – 11/08/1917) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions as a temporary captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the 6th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, (Princess Charlotte of Wales`s) during the First World War. 

The Citation, Recorded in the London gazette, of Supplement: 30272 Page: 9259 reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery. During recent operations Capt. Ackroyd displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. Utterly regardless of danger, he worked continuously for many hours up and down and in front of the line tending the wounded and saving the lives of officers and men. In so doing he had to move across the open under heavy machine-gun, rifle and shell fire. He carried a wounded officer to a place of safety under very heavy fire.

On another occasion he went some way in front of our advanced line and brought in a wounded man under continuous sniping and machine-gun fire. His heroism was the means of saving many lives, and provided a magnificent example of courage, cheerfulness, and determination to the fighting men in whose midst he was carrying out his splendid work. This gallant officer has since been killed in action.”

He was killed in action on  11 August 1917 at Glencorse Wood, Ypres, and is buried at Burr Cross Roads Cemetery, Zillebeke, Belgium. 

 © DRW 2017-2018. Created 24/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.