James Young

James Young was born on 12th October 1889 in Diamond Terrace, West Auckland.
His Mother was Catherine Young, a Domestic Servant (General)
No father is recorded on his birth certificate.
At the time of the 1891 and 1901 census James lived with his Grandmother, Margaret.
In the 1901 census Mary Tray, aged 8, was living in Coundon. Her Father John, a Coal Miner (Hewer) was born in Ireland.
James married Mary Tray in the December Quarter of 1910.

On Monday the 28th of September 1914 James Young was recruited in the 6th (reserve) battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.
He was 24 years of age and 5ft 4¼ inches tall with a 38 inch chest.
His regimental number was 2606.
He was living at 2 Maughan’s Yard, Coundon, County Durham.
On the same day James signed an agreement to serve outside of the United Kingdom if required.

On Sunday the 13th August 1916 James embarked on a troop ship to cross the channel. He disembarked at Boulogne.
On the 18th August James, 5 days after reaching France, wrote his will leaving all of his possessions to his wife Mary Young.
He joined ‘D’ Company 14th Battalion DLI on Thursday the 14th September 1916.
On Monday 18th September a draft of 80 men left the DLI base and arrived at Meaulte to join the 14th Battalion.
At 4.45am, Tuesday 19th September the 14th Battalion DLI was relieved (from positions in the QUADRILATERAL) by the 1st Cheshire and 5th Warwick Regiment. They moved to Albert, arriving 6.55 am.

At 10am the battalion proceeded by route march to Meaulte and went into billets. The draft of 80 men joined the battalion. James Young was part of this draft.
On Wednesday the 20th of September the battalion remained at Meaulte.
The Companies were reorganised into bomb sections and machine gun teams etc.
James was allocated to ‘D’ company. The new draft were equipped and practised in training.
Major G A Richardson and second lieutenants L G Harris and G Auten were the officers in command of James’ ‘D’ company.
The next day, Thursday at 2.30pm, the battalion marched from Meaulte and to a position in trenches between Trones and Bernafay woods near Guillemont; arriving at 8.10pm.

On Friday the 22nd, the battalion remained in those trenches. The position was shelled by enemy heavy artillery from 12 noon to 6.00pm.
The next day at 7.30pm the battalion moved forward into trenches vacated by the 2nd battalion DLI and 11th Essex Regiment. This was completed by 1.55am.
‘A’ company was left Support Company. ‘B’ company was left Front Company. ‘C’ company was right Support Company. ‘D’ company was right Front Company.
The 16th IB was on the right, the Germans were on the left.
Both front and support lines were shelled throughout the night. ‘D’ sent out a 4 man patrol.

On Sunday the 24th September at 8.00am the enemy began shelling both Front and Support lines with 5.9s, 4.2s, and shrapnel.
The enemy attempted an attack on the DLI front but was driven back.
British heavy artillery opened fire but many fell short.
One burst in the DLI trench and killed O A Herd, Private James Young and wounding 2 other ranks.
Shelling continued all morning. At 8.00pm heavy enemy shelling began again and continued for 3 hours.
Oswald Alexander Herd is buried in the Guard’s Cemetery, Lesboeufs. James has no known grave.

James Young joined the 14th battalion on 19th of September and was killed on 24th September. He served for 5 days with the battalion.
Following James’ death his wife and 3 children (the 3rd James was born posthumously on 2nd of October eight days after James’ death) were without support.
Once it was established that James Young 45498 was the same as James Young 2606 his widow was awarded a pension of 26 shillings and 3 pence for herself and 3 children.
Mary had help from the local families association.
Mary remarried and became Mary Evans, wife of Thomas Evans, in the June Quarter of 1918.

On 11th October 1916 the ‘Report of a death of a soldier’ recorded that James’ burial ‘Place’ ‘Date’ and ‘By who reported’ - were Not Known.
It was recorded on 3rd February 1917 that there were NO EFFECTS for James Young.
This suggests that his body, following the explosion of a British shell in his trench was ‘lost’ or ‘destroyed’. At the end of the war his grave, or his remains, could not be identified.
As James has no known grave he is commemorated on the Thiepval memoria, Pier and Face 14A and 15C, together with 72,000 other soldiers. We visited the Thiepval in May 2011 and photographed the inscription of his name.
In the visitor centre we found the database of ‘The Missing’ created by Pam & Ken Linge. It is to commemorate those whose names are on Thiepval. We contacted them when we returned home and passed on our information and family photographs. The story of James and his half brothers were added to the database.


By the time the memorial plaque was issued in 1919 James Young’s wife, Mary, had remarried.
She married Thomas H Evans in the Auckland area in the June Qtr. of 1918.
The plaque was sent to her, addressed to Mary Young, on the 26th November 1919.
James was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
James’ medals, like all ‘other ranks’ were issued automatically and were not applied for.
Mary signed the forms acknowledging receipt of the medals in her new name, Mary Evans.

As well as being remembered on the monument at Thiepval, James is also commemorated on the village memorial near to Coundon church.
Coundon and Leeholme erected a combined memorial at the junction of the two roads leading into Coundon. Hundreds of residents turned out to watch the statue of a soldier unveiled on September 24, 1921. The plinth below the statue held the names of the fallen.
The statue was removed for repairs in the 1960s after being deemed unsafe. The figure was so badly damaged that it was too expensive to repair.
In 2007 a new soldier was carved from a piece of Teesdale limestone.

James is the great uncle of Len Skelton of Newton Aycliffe