We Will Remember Them 1914-18

Puslinch Voluntary Aided Hospital



This account is a tribute to those members of the Yonge family who served, both those who survived and those who were killed, during the First World War or what that generation better knew as “The Great War”.

 Those who wish to ponder with or without prejudice, with or without an agenda on the causes of the war, the tactics, the battles, and the strategy and whether it was worthwhile or justified, must look elsewhere. I am simply giving a brief account of those family members from England and Australia who served.

 There is no indication that any family members from New Zealand or the U.S.A served. At that time there were no members of the family in Canada.

 Because Australia did not require conscripts to serve abroad and conscription did not come in to Britain until March 1916 and because of what is known from individual service records, we know that all family members who served in World War 1 were volunteers.

 The traditional image of recruitment in 1914 is of an initial wave of enthusiasm and volunteering on the outbreak of war. At the beginning of August 1914, Parliament issued a call for an extra 100,000 soldiers. Recruitment in the first week or so  was high, but the real 'recruiting boom' began in the last week of August, when news of the British retreat following the Battle ofMons reached Britain. Recruiting peaked in the first week of September.

By the end of September, over 750,000 men had enlisted; by January 1915, a million.

The reasons for their enlistment cannot be pinned down to a single factor; enthusiasm and a war spirit certainly drove some, while for others unemployment prompted enlistment and some employers forced men to join up. , The timing of the recruiting boom in the wake of the news from Mons, though, suggests that men joined knowing that the war was dangerous and indeed many joined precisely because it seemed to be a threat to their home, district and country

In 1915 the total available number of men of military age was 5.5 million, with around 500,000 more reaching the age each year.   When volunteer numbers fell after the Dardanelles the Government felt forced to intervene, although they initially avoided  conscription. Conscription however did finally come in January 1916.

 In Australia at the outbreak of the First World War, the number of people volunteering to enlist for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was so high that recruitment officers were forced to turn people away. However, as the war went on, casualty rates increased and the number of volunteers declined, so that by 1916 the AIF faced a shortage of men. The Government decided to take the issue to the people in a referendum. The referendum provoked furious debate within the Australian community. It was held on 28 October 1916, and the proposal for conscription was narrowly defeated. On 20 December 1917 the nation again voted "No" to conscription, this time with a slightly larger majority.

 Hopefully this account will bring to life and give some meaning to the bare impersonal statistics that in the British Empire nearly nine million men were mobilised of whom 908,000 were killed and 4,216,00 were wounded.

 For each of these men for them and their families it was at best a life wrenched from its normal course and at worst a life abruptly ended. For these the words of A E Houseman ring out:

 Here dead we lie

 Here dead we lie because we did not chose

To live and shame the land from which we sprang

Life to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is and we were young.


JOHN YONGE: He was born 18 December 1864 so too old to be on active service. At the time of the War he was the owner of the family seat of Puslinch, Devon.

In the First World War he was officer in charge of the PuslinchVoluntaryAidedHospital. During the First World War there was an urgent need for more hospitals to care for injured soldiers, and the existing infrastructure of military and civilian hospitals was not able to cope. The Red Cross set up a large number of Voluntary Aid (V.A.) hospitals across the UK. Many of these were based in large residential houses loaned to the Red Cross by their owners. Others were set up in public buildings.. Cash and trained medical staff were in short supply so the hospitals were run by Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D’s), mostly unpaid local women.

 He was also corporal in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Devonshire Regiment. The initial nucleus of this was the Plymouth Volunteer Training Corps which was heavily made up of dockyard workers. Its drill hall and headquarters was Plymouth Guildhall.

 After war had been declared in August 1914, there was an immediate demand for a means of service for those men who were over military age or engaged in important occupations. Combined with the perceived risk of a German invasion, this resulted in the spontaneous formation of unauthorised "town guards" and volunteer defence associations around the country. However b September 1914, a central committee had been formed and on 19 November 1914, a renamed Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps was recognised by the War Office. 

 Although the Central Association had been officially recognized, the new Volunteer Training (VT) Battalions had to be financially self-supporting and members had to provide their own uniforms, which could not be  khaki. All members were required to wear a red brassard or arm band, bearing the letters "GR" for "Georgius Rex". No weapons or equipment were provided, apart from dummy weapons intended for "Drill Purposes." .Membership of the Corps was only open to those who had "genuine reasons" for not enlisting in the regular armed forces.

 In 1915 the VT Battalions legally became Volunteer Regiments.  By February 1918, there were 285,000 “volunteers.”

 In the case of a German invasion the Battalions were tasked with roles such as guarding lines of communication, garrison duty. Their regular duties included, guarding vulnerable points, munitions handling, digging anti invasion defence lines, transport of wounded solders, fire fighting and helping with the harvest.

 The force was often ridiculed and there were jokes that the “GR” stood for “Government Rejects” “Grandpa’s Regiment” or “Georges Wrecks”.

 He died 26 May 1946.

 AMBROSE PODE YONGE: He was born in1878 at Puslinch. Educated ExeterCollege, Oxford; qualified as doctor (1907) and served as a Captain Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) from (April 1915 to 1917.

The key to the effectiveness of the RAMC in the Great War was inevitably bound up in the availability of trained medical staff and, in particular, medical, surgical and dental officers. Fortunately, the RAMC was able to recruit large numbers of qualified medical officers, surgeons and paramedical staff from the UK civil population. By the end of the war nearly 13,000 doctors (50% percent of all UK civilian doctors) had been recruited into the armed forces; often to the detriment, it must be said, of the health care of the UK civilian population. There was no actual conscription of doctors but they were very strongly “encouraged to volunteer for a period. The RAMC itself lost 743 officers and 6130 soldiers killed in the war. 

Medical care throughout the First World War was largely the responsibility of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). The RAMC’s job was both to maintain the health and fighting strength of the forces in the field and ensure that in the event of sickness or wounding they were treated and evacuated as quickly as possible.

Every battalion had a medical officer, assisted by stretcher-bearers. The medical officer was tasked with establishing a Regimental Aid Post near the front line. From here, the wounded were evacuated and cared for by men of a Field Ambulance in an Advanced Dressing Station. Further back from the front were casualty clearing stations. It seems however that Ambrose spent his service time in hospitals away from the front

He served in Malta from 9th June 1915 at the time of the Gallipoli campaign. The first landing at Gallipoli, with its attendant rush of casualties, took place on the 25th April, and on the 29th the G.O.C. Egypt cabled if 1,000 sick and wounded could be received in Malta, and on the 30th if additional 600 cases could be sent, and then later a further 1,000 cases.. The first convoy of 600 cases from the landing arrived in Malta on the 4th of May, 400 more on the 5th; and 640 on the 6th. On that date the number of sick and wounded reached 1,962; on the 12th, 2593; and before the end of the month, upwards of four thousand. Facilities were taxed to the utmost.

  As great a problem as the housing of the patients in the early history of the Malta hospitals was the scarcity of doctors, nurses, and orderlies. The staff on the island was constituted on the basis of peace requirements and consisted in April, 1915, of 9 Medical Officers, 14 Nurses, and 220 R.A.M.C. rank and file, a number utterly unable to cope with the rush in May.  The first reinforcements to come from Britain began to arrive from May onwards. There were 39 nurses on May 7th, followed by 25 officers and 158 men, R.A.M.C.; subsequently reinforcements of medical personnel came steadily so that by the early June there were in the island 82 officers, 219 nurses, and 798 rank and file, R.A.M.C.  This would have been about the time that Ambrose arrived

Later he served in France at Arras (at the tail end of the Battle of the Somme) from 6th November 1916. From the arrival of the British in the Arras sector in March 1916 New Zealand Tunnelling Companies dug a network of tunnels in the ground underneath the Ronville and Saint-Saveur districts of Arras. They dug new tunnels and rooms and joined them up with the existing ancient tunnels and quarries or pits already under the city. The tunnels were fitted with running water and electricity supplies. Accommodation in the underground city was available for the soldiers to live and sleep in, and there was a large hospital for treating the wounded in a labyrinth of rooms with enough space to fit 700 beds and operating theatres. Possibly he served there.

He was awarded the “regular” Victory and British Medals.

After his service he went back to build up his private practice again.  He died in 1956.

 JOANNA ANGELA YONGE was the niece of the author Charlotte Mary Yonge and youngest child of Julian Bargus Yonge. She married Captain Charles Francis Cromie of 1st Bn. Hampshire Regiment; and then  HM Consul General, French West Africa, based in Dakar in Senegal. He died in 1907. They had two boys.

 Maurice Francis: He was born 31 July 1895; He and  his brother Henry (see below) were gazetted Second Lieutenants in the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment on the  15th of of August 1914. Both had been the officer training corps  whist at Dover College School so had some very basic  military experience.  The 3rd Battalion was  a training and reserve battalion and never left England in the War. Fairly rapidly  Maurice was attached to the 2nd Battalion and Henry to the Ist.

  As 2nd Lieutenant  2nd  Bn. Hampshire Regiment; he was killed Gallipoli 4 June 1915: His name is on panel 125-135 at the Helles Memorial.

 The 2nd Hampshire was supplied with 2 drafts of men, 181 on January 31st, and 50 on February 20th. It was likely that Maurice and his brother joined at that time. It was at first allotted for France, but then was dispatched to Gallipoli, and embarked on March 28th from Avonmouth on the Aragon and Manatou  via Malta, Alexandria and Mudros.  Before they left on March 12th the whole division passed in review of the King. They  landed at Cape Helles, on the tip of the peninsular on the 25th of April.

 The landing at Cape Helless was first part of the invasion of the Gallipolii peninsula by British and French forces. Helles, at the foot of the peninsula, was the main landing area. With the support of the guns of the Navy, the  British were  to advance six miles (9.7 km) along the peninsula on the first day and seize the heights of Achi Baba, which commanded most of the peninsula. From there they went on to capture the forts that guarded the straits. Another landing was made to the north by the "ANZACS".

 The Helles landing was mismanaged by the British commanders, The two main beaches became bloodbaths, despite the meagre defences, while the landings at other sites were not exploited.

The Hampshire’s landed at V Beach which was three hundred yards (270 m) long with CapeHelles and Fort Etrugrul (Fort No. 1) on the left and the old  Sedd el Bahr castle (Fort No. 3) on the right, looking from the sea. The beach was defended by about a company of men from the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Regiment, equipped with four machine guns.

The first ashore was the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers which landed from ships boats that were towed or rowed ashore. The rest were landed from the SS River Clyde, a 4,000 ton converted collier. On the bows were fitted eleven machine guns. Sally ports had been cut in the hull to allow the men to embark via gangways. The ship held two thousand men; the 1st Battalion of the Royal Munster Rifles and the 2nd Hampshire Regiment.(from the 88th Brigade) and one company of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

The tows containing the Dubliners came in at 06:00. All appeared lifeless following the bombardment. As the boats were about to land, the Ottoman defenders opened up, laying down a withering fire. The guns in the fort and castle enfiladed the beach, slaughtering the men in the boats. As they came down the gangways they continued to be mown down. A few made it ashore and sought shelter under a sand bank at the edge of the beach where they remained, pinned down. Out of the seven hundred men who went in, only three hundred survived, many of whom were wounded.

The River Clyde followed closely behind the tows. To connect the collier to the shore, a steam hopper, the Argyll, was to beach ahead of it, providing a bridge. However, the Argyll ended up broadside to the beach, out of touch with the River Clyde and because the beach shelved less deeply than expected the Clyde could not get   as near to the shore as planned. Under murderous fire, the captain of the River Clyde, Commander Edward Unwin, led men outside to manhandle three lighters (transport boats) into place and so a bridge was formed but by then it was broad daylight. The first  troops going ashore were cut to pieces.

 Hunter-Weston who was in charge of the invasion, remained oblivious to the developments at V Beach. At 08:30 he instructed the main force to begin landing at V Beach. At 09:30 he ordered the covering force at V to link up with W Beach. This prompted a third attempt to get ashore from the River Clyde by a company of 2nd Hampshires who were likewise killed. The leader of the main force, Brigadier General Napier made an attempt to lead his force ashore and was also killed. Finally, at 10:21, General Hamilton, who had been watching the landing instructed Hunter-Weston to land the main force at W Beach. The one thousand men remaining aboard the River Clyde waited until nightfall before making another attempt to land. Although the British managed to gain a foothold ashore, their plans were in disarray.

 For the next two months they staged a number of costly battles in attempt to reach the objectives that they had intended to take on the first day. In each battle they inched closer but they never managed to get there.

 Maurice was killed on the 4th of June. This would have been at the Third Battle of Krithia. The Battle was final in a series of Allied attacks against the Ottoman defences aimed at capturing the original objectives of 25 April 1915. The previous failures in the first and second battles resulted in a less ambitious plan being developed for the attack, but the outcome was another costly failure for the Allies.  The Hampshire Regiment from the 29th Division, advancing alongside a ravine but at one point having lost contact with the Sikhs on their right were forced to defend along the bank of the ravine as well as to their front. Elsewhere, the 29th Division advance was held up with heavy casualties by Ottoman strong points that had survived the initial bombardment undamaged. The objectives of the third battle of Krithia had been more realistic than the previous attempts, but it ended in failure all the same with only small gains in ground. Both sides were severely stretched following the battle. It is believed however that if the British had the troops to resume the attack on the following day, the Ottomans believed they would not have been able to hold but the Gallipoli campaign was a string of missed opportunities.

 An extract from the War Diary of the 88th Brigade of which the 2nd Hampshires were a part reads:

 “7.30 all units in allotted positions,......from left to right KOSBS, R Fusiliers, Hampshire Regiment....

11 am Artillery bombardment commences

11.20 Heavy enemy infantry fire reported by Worcesters and Hants

2.18 R Fusiliers have occupied first objective in face of strong opposition, with Hampshires on right in advance of this line

3.45 Units informed they must consolidate on 1st objective. and not advance further

6.30 Orders to prepare against counter attack.. right linked up with 42nd Division

11.45 pm All units warned to hold on at all costs  and take precautions against counter attacks.

De Ruvingy’s Roll of Honour 1914-18 records the following by his commanding officer  “Lieut Cromie’s loss was really a bitter blow to the Regiment. I had only known him a few days and he had command of the machine guns. When we went up to the front trenches prior to the assault he came twice with me on expeditions, and was so keen and cheerful about it all that I got him to come and live in my dugout and there we stayed together until the day. . How it happened I do not know, but what I do know is that his guns arrived in the nick of time and later were instrumental in saving the situation.”


 The other son Henry Julian, was born 29th October 1896 in Dar El Baida. Morocco where his father was a British consul at the time.

 He was educated at Blundell’s School Tiverton  as a day boy from 9th May 1904 to Christmas 1907. Then at  Dover College to the 10th august 1911,  where with his brother he had been the officer training corps.  

 He and  his brother Maurice were gazetted Second Lieutenants in the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment on the  15th of August 1914. 

At the time of his death he was acting Captain, attached to  1st Bt. Hampshire Regiment; was killed on the Somme 23 October 1916.  His name is on pier C77B Thiepval Memorial

 He disembarked for France on the 2nd February 1915  but with periods of illness in hospital and  training he does not seem to have had an appointment until the 27th May 1916 when he was posted from the 4th Army School to be put in temporary charge of C Company  of the 1st Hampshire’s. On the 2nd July 1916 he was made officer commanding of A Company the 1st Bt. Hampshire Regiment was part of III Corps which consisted of the 4th & 6th divisions. The 1st Hampshire being in the 4th Division, 11th Brigade. It arrived in France in August 1914. Served in France and Flanders until the Armistice. The 4th division was a regular division stationed at Woolwich, Shornecliffe, Dover and Colchester prior to the outbreak of the war.

 Henry’s first action would have been in the Battle of Albert. 1-13 Jul 1916. In the opening phases of the Somme the great attack of July 1st 1916 on a 25 mile front began. The fourth army were facing stronger defences than anywhere else.

 They were to attack north of Beaumont Hamel where two redoubts and a quadrilateral trench were particularly strong. It was hoped that the Brigade would reach Munich trench 1000 yards behind the front line where supporting the 10th and 11th would go through it.

 At 7.20 am 10 minutes before zero hour a large mine was blown up under the German redoubt Hawthorn Ridge. This gave away the exact time of the attack. After the heavy guns stopped firing the Germans had ample time to man there positions after being in deep undamaged dugouts.

 The Hampshire’s (leaving there trenches at 7.40) followed the East Lancashire who had already been almost wiped out. Very few Hampshire made it to the wire a few bombers were reported to have got into the German line, but the majority were brought down at or short of the wire. The survivors could only seek the poor shelter of the shell holes which pitted No Mans Land here they had to lie for hours until darkness fell. This was the 1st Hampshire's worst experience of the war it had cost them 11 officers and 310 men killed and missing, 15 officers and 250 men wounded. That day the British Army m lost nearly 20,000 men. Henry was lucky to survive the carnage of that first day but would have been present for the remainder of this opening battle.  Probably his appointment on the 2nd of July was a reflection of the losses on the 1st.

 After the disaster of the first day, the Battalion was relieved and sent to Mailly-Maillet and then on to Bertancourt on the 4th of July. On the 10th they were sent back to the frontline trenches at Beaumont-Hamel. Thee Battalion being severely depleted it was moved by train Ypres sector from Doullens on the 23rd July.

 They returned to the Somme at the end of September. The Battalion was part of a brigade which formed part of the reserve lines at Guillemont on the 17th October and at Lesboeufs on the 19th October.

 On the 22nd October they moved back to the front line at Frosty Trench and at 2.30 pm on the 23rd July A and C companies led an attack on Boritska trench. They immediately came under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire. The right flank eventually entered the German front line but were forced to retire after a few hours. Casualties numbered 202 officers and men.

 The failure to secure original battle objectives of the 1st July had led to a renewed major assault on the afternoon of 12 October when infantry on Fourth Army’s right floundered towards German trench lines in front of Le Transloy, while formations on the left slogged towards the Butte de Warlencourt. Despite the slightest of gains (measured in hard fought for trench yards) the operation was not successful. Orders for a fresh attack, issued late on 13 October, ignored the desperate conditions and physical state of the attacking troops. The subsequent assaults witnessed heroic efforts to advance but minimal gains were made against resolute defenders well supported by accurate artillery fire. The rest of the month was spent on supporting this advance, creating a new smoother front line through limited attacks or raids.

 It was in one of these that  Henry was killed on the 23rd October. We do not know exactly where or when he was killed. Extracts from the Brigade War Diary read:

 “22nd Relieved the 1st Somerset Light Infantry in the line.

 23rd October

After a fine clear night the day broke very misty and zero hour was postponed from 11.30 a, to 2.30 pm. The Brigade was disposed with the Hampshire’s in the front line and the Rifle Brigade in support on the right and the Dubliners in the front line and the Warwick’s in support. Our objective was an imaginary line on the map known as the brown line. Our guns both field and heavy were falling short most of the morning. At 2.30 pm our intense barrage opened and the infantry commenced their advance. [There is then a reference to the position of the various companies. The attack was apparently at Lesboeufs. ] Immediately the assault commenced very heavy machine gun and rifle fire was directed on us and the right flank was scarcely able to advance at all. The right suffering heavy casualties managed to get into the first German trench where they remained a few hours but then had to retire w owing to a want of ammunition. Eventually the whole line had to retire to its normal position and the situation became normal once more

 24th October A wt day with nothing important happening.  Our casualties in the previous day’s operations proved to be ten officers and 182 other ranks. We were relieved by the Royal Welch Fusiliers and marched back to bivouac”.

 He died intestate and letters of administration were granted to his Mother. His estate amounted to £156.

 In October 2014 there appeared in the Times and on the web a letter written by him to his girl friend Vera Vereker which was only to be sent if he died. 

 It seems that the Yonge and Vereker families were friends and also that before going to the Somme the Bt spent some time on the Isle of Wight where the Vereker's lived.

 The letter had been found by her granddaughter when her grandmother died.

 “By this you will know that I have been killed. "I meant to ask you to be engaged to me but when I was on leave I was too frightened to say anything - I loved you very very much and would have done anything for you.  However we may meet next in another life. With best love: "Ever your own loving boy."

 Despite going on to find love with another man and marry and have children, Vera kept the two page letter for the rest of her life along with a locket containing photos of her and Harry.

 GEOFFREY BOWEN YONGE: He was born on 28 November 1898 and Educated Mount House, Plymouth; and Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire where head boy. Was an officer cadet at Sandhurst 1916.17.  In October 1917 hr was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant "C" Company 1/5 Bt. Devonshire  Regiment. He went out to France in last days of was and  fatally wounded on the 5th of November.

On the 20th October 1918 the 62 West Riding Division which included the 1/5 Devon regiment commanded by Colonel H Bastow was involved in the advance on Solesmes. 

 In late September to early October the Battalion had been brought up to full strength, and it seems that Geoffrey had joined the Regiment by this time. The numbers in the Regiment and had dropped to about 150 following the German spring offensive.  Now the Allies were going onto the offensive.

 In the preliminary attack of the 20th October on the high ground overlooking Romeres the Devon’s were in the Brigade reserve. By early morning Solesmes was effective taken though German shelling from outside the town continued during the day.

 There was a concern among the Allied leaders that the Germans might withdraw to shorter and more easily defended lines so in anticipation of a withdrawal and to force an early end of the war it was agreed to attack the German centre on the front Sambre to Valenciennes.

 The 62nd was one of the Divisions involved in a continuous series of leapfrog attacks which turned out to be the final blow from which the Germans never recovered.   The area involved was in fact  the same area in which the British Army had first been involved in fighting in 1914.   At 8.45 pm on the 4th orders to continue the advance on the following day were issued from the 62nds divisional HQ. This was certainly not  a static war of the trenches but one of continued forward movement first by one brigade which was  then leapfrogged by the next and so on.

 The 185th Brigade was to pass through the 186 and 187 Infantry Brigades at 6.00 am and press forward  with the Guards on their left and the New Zealanders on their right. Of the 185th Brigade the Devon’s on the right and the 2/20 London Regiment were on the left were to carry out the attack.  During the night of the 4/5th November the 185th Brigade moved forward to its assembly positions. The Devon’s were held in a sunken lane.  At zero hour the divisional artillery opened up and was quickly followed by a German counter barrage. 

 At 6.00 am on the 5th November the attack began. The Devon’s who had been given Le Cheval Blanc as their objective attacked through the Sunken Road N17 b and d and quickly captured Cheval Blanc La Cavee Le Grand Sart and Sarloton and by 9.00. and by 9.00 am they held the line of the main road N8 and N 15 central along the edge of the Foret de Mormal. The first objective of the 185th Brigade having been taken they were then leapfrogged by other units..

 A good feel for the events and feelings of that day the following extract from a diary kept by an officer of the Yorkshire’s is indicative.

 "After a stiff dose of rum which gladdened our hearts and a nip of tea and biscuits we move onto the crossroads where we wait until the dark has gone and longer. At 7.30 we are still waiting and news comes that the Boche has gone, goodness knows where. We still wait. Motor lorries now keep coming up, a sure sign that something has happened. At last we move on a mile or so and stand on a ridge overlooking the village of Gommegnies about three miles away.   The plain is well wooded and away on our right lies the Foret De Mormal. Large columns of smoke are rising from various places behind the trees and there we can locate the homesteads of the poor French inhabitants. After some difficulty in getting across the railway for the bridge had been mined, we push on through several villages in which large German guns lie fast in the mud or damaged by our shells. A few civilians very shaken wave us onwards singing the Marseilles and giving us apples.   My pockets are full.   These gifts can't last for ever, the poor French peasant has had all her cows etc taken and the only thing left is a little coffee and a little bread and a few apples and the Lord knows she gives these away generously enough as long as they last. Many improvised bridges have to be made for our limbers over streams where the road bridges have been blown in to impede our advance. We reach a little village called Cheval Blanc billet the men in a barn and then partake of the food which the French people give us just a bit of bread brown and unsavoury a little coffee and a few pears. We give them in exchange a little white bread at the site of which one old woman nearly had hysterics and a little corned beef. We can't spare much as we don't know where we shall get our next rations....... the night is beastly.   machine guns fire throughout the night. “

 At some point on the 5th Geoffrey was wounded in the arm by a rifle shot but we don’t know where or when. The family story is that hit in the arm he lay in a crater for a week before being discovered, by which time his arm had become infected. Because of the enclosed country the heavy conditions under foot and the incessant rain and pitch dark nights and units constantly on the move it is perhaps not too surprising that he was not found for a week

 In four days the 62nd had driven the enemy back 20 miles and all ranks were very tired. Never stated General Anderson "during the whole war were men and horses of the brigades worked to a greater state of exhaustion than those closing days”.

 The following is taken from the Battalion war diary for the day Geoffrey was wounded

Written 7th November

“By 7th casualties three officers and 42 other ranks. “

 He died at a military hospital in France, aged 19, after the war was over, on 21 November 1918.His mother went out to visit him before his death. Buried at St Server Cemetery Extension,  (grave reference SUK6) near Rouen. Awarded the “regular” Victory and British Medals. Had he lived he would probably have succeeded to the family seat of Puslinch. A particularly sad and poignant loss.

 KATHLEEN DOROTHY YONGE: Born 1892 and  married  a station overseer; and later Captain John Edward Wallace Bushelle of the 36th Bn. Australian Infantry. John  was born  1892.   

He embarked for France on May 13th 1916 from Sydney in HMAT Beltana as a 2nd Lieutenant to D Company the 36th Batallion He arrived in Devonport on the 9th July and embarked for France on the 22nd November 1916 from Southampton.  He was appointed Lieutenant on the 21st March 1917, temporary Captain on the 5th July 1917 and Captain  on the 1st November 1917

He was killed instantly when shot through the left breast by a sniper (6 April 1918) at Villers Bretonneux, France. He was buried in Blangy-TronvilleCommunalCemetery, near Amiens with full military honours  with the service conducted by the battalion chaplain Before his death he would in 1917 have been involved in some of the heaviest trench fighting of the War.

He was awarded an MC posthumously on the 16th September 1918 – at that point his wife was still in touch with the authorities. (although  by mistake this was originally left off his gravestone and not inserted until 1930) the citation for which reads, "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his company in a counter attack. In the face of heavy fire he showed utter disregard for danger and by his fearless leadership greatly assisted in the success of the operation. Later under heavy and close machine gun fire he moved in the open, directing the work of his company."

The 36th Battalion was an infantry battalion which was raised in 1916 as part of the First Australian Imperial Force. Throughout World War I the battalion served on the Western Front as part of the 9th|Brigade attached to the 3rd Division.

 The battalion left Sydney shortly on 13 May 1916, bound for the United Kingdom. Arriving in early July 1916, the battalion spent the next four months in training, before taking up a position on the Western Front on 4 December 1916, in time to sit out an uncomfortable winter in the trenches.

Over the course of the next six months the 36th Battalion was mainly involved in only minor defensive actions and it was not until 7 June 1917 the battalion fought in its first major battle, at Messines.

 After this the battalion participated in the attack on Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. During this battle, the battalion managed to secure its objective, however, as other units had not been able to do so, the battalion had had to withdraw as its flanks were exposed to German counter-attacks and there was a lack of effective artillery support.

 For the next five months the 36th Battalion alternated between periods of duty manning the line and training or labouring in the rear areas in Belgium, before it was moved south to the Somme to help blunt the German advance during their last ditched effort to win the war as part of the Spring Offensive of 1918.

 During this time they were deployed around Villers-Bretonneux in order to defend the approaches to the strategically important town of Amiens.

 Battle of Villers-Bretonneux (30 March – 5 April 1918), was part of the wider First Battle of the Somme (1918). The capture of Villers-Brettoneux, being close to the strategic centre of Amiens, would have meant that the Germans could have used artillery there to shell the city. In late March, 1918, The German army advanced towards Amiens, pushing the British line back towards the town of Villers-Bretonneux.

From north to south the line was held by British and Australian troops, including the 36th Battalion. However, by 4 April the 14th Division fell back under attack from the German 228th Division. The Australians held off the  9th Bavarian Reserve Division and the British 18th Division held off the German Guards Ersatz Division and 19th Divisions. The allied forces were forced to pull back by the retreat of the British 14th Division. The Germans came within 440 yards (400 m) of Villers-Bretonneux; a counter-attack by the 36th Bataslion, with c. 1000 men, pushed the Germans back and forced two German divisions to retreat from  Villers-Brettoneux.

The Battalion beat off a concerted German attack on Villers-Bretonneux on 4 April, where the battalion suffered greatly when the Germans attacked with gas.

The attack on Villers-Bretonneux was the last significant German attack of 1918. On the failure of the German forces to get their objectives, Ludendorff brought the entire offensive to a halt.

This was to be the 36th Battalion's last contribution to the war, as it was disbanded on 30 April 1918 in order to reinforce other 9th Brigade units. With the Australians voting against conscription, and volunteers drying up it was necessary to reduce the number of units

John married Kathleen Dorothy Yonge on March 11th 1916.  She later remarried. 

 ARTHUR DUKE YONGE: Arthur Duke Yonge was born on the 20th February 1887. He  enlisted 7th December 1916, having applied on the 10th September 1916 at which time news of the dreadful losses at the battle of the Somme would have been widespread. His Army number was 32964. At the time of joining up he was a Bank Clerk.

 He had previously  spent nine years in the militia unit, The New South Wales Scottish Rifles.

 He was a private from the 7th December to 19th December when he was noted as a “gunner”. He was part of reinforcements for the  Australian IAF Field Artillery Brigade. He is recorded  as a gunner until the 15th April 1917. From the 16th April 1917 he is down as a driver.

 On the 12 May 1917 he embarked on HMAT Shropshire at Melbourne for Plymouth.

 The ship left Melbourne on the 6th of May and almost immediately he was in the ships hospital and was in and out of the hospital the entire voyage.

 In England he was stated to be suffering from laryngitis and then aphonia which is a more severe form of loss of speech and can arise from laryngitis.

 The Shropshire arrived in Plymouth on the 19th of July and the men immediately sent to Larkhill camp on Salisbury Plain. Larkhill was a huge training camp, where all the arts of war were taught including artillery and had accommodation for 34 battalions at any one time in huts and tents. Whilst in England, on the 19th August 1917 he reverted to being a gunner “at his own request”

 He embarked at Southampton on the 1st of September from and left for France on the 5th of September and he arrived at the Australian Divisional depot of Rouelles near Le Havre on the 8th of September.

 He was then posted to a battery in the 1st Field Artillery Brigade and left for a front line unit on the15th September so no time for any real training or familiarisation. The first Field Artillery Brigade was assigned to and formed part of the 1st Australian Division.

 The 1st Division's artillery was in action from the start of the Third Battle of Ypres on 31 July 1917 but the infantry were not called upon until the second phase of the battle commenced on 20 September with the Battle of Menin Road. (20-25th Sept) which was the time that Arthur would have been present. Attacking across 1,000-metre (1,100 yd) front, along with ten other divisions, including the Australian 2nd Division on their left, the 1st Division captured around 1,500 metres (1,600 yd) of ground, securing Glencorse Wood and gaining a foothold in Polygon Wood. The Australian divisions suffered 5,000 casualties from the battle – the 1st Division lost 2,754 men – mainly due to retaliatory shelling from heavy artillery after the advance had completed.

The 1st Division was relieved by the Australian 5th Division before the next assault, the Battel ofPolygon Wood (26 September), but in turn took up the advance for the following Battel of Broodseinde (4 October), the third and final of the successful bite-and-hold attacks conceived by General Plumer of the British Second Army. This battle marked the peak of British success during 3rd Ypres and apart from minor roles on the southern flank of the Canadians during the First Battle of Passchendaele (12th October onwards) and the Second Battle (which latter was after Arthur’s time)  it was the end of the 1st Division's involvement. The division's casualties were 2,448 men killed or wounded.

These battles were all phases of the Third Battle of Ypres which took place between the 31st July 1917 and the 10th November 1917. The Third Battle of Ypres was the major British offensive in Flanders in 1917. It was planned to break through the strongly fortified and in-depth German defences enclosing the Ypres salient, a protruding bulge in the British front line, with the intention of sweeping through to the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast.
The battle comprised of a series of limited and costly offensives, often undertaken in the most difficult of waterlogged conditions - a consequence of frequent periods of rain and the destruction of the Flanders' lowlands drainage systems by intense artillery bombardment. As the opportunity for breakthrough receded, Haig still saw virtue in maintaining the offensives, hoping in the process to drain German manpower through attrition.

In eight weeks of fighting Australian forces incurred 38,000 casualties. The combined total of British and Dominion casualties has been estimated at 310,000 (estimated German losses were slightly lower) and no breakthrough was achieved. The costly offensives, ending with the capture of Passchendaele village, merely widened the Ypres salient by a few kilometres.


Although it varied during the war, typically a battery may have half up to half dozen artillery pieces.  A driver was a soldier trained in the management and use of horses. The six horses drawing the gun, or wagon, were driven by three drivers, all on the nearside horses, and much training was required before drivers would be rated as competent. The drivers, of course, also looked after the horses and the management, condition and state of health of these animals was regarded as one of the most important functions in the battery. 

He spent just over a month with a front line unit for from the 24th of October he spent various periods in hospital in France and by the 9th November he embarked for England on the hospital ship St Andrew.

Whether service on the front aggravated an existing weakness is not known. However though his medical record makes no reference to it, his “Non Effective Statement” also states that he was suffering from shell shock.

On the 27th December and on On the 1st February 1918 he embarked on the hospital transport Balmoral Castle for Australia. The records state that he was still suffering from aphonia and that he was being sent to Australia for a change. He arrived back in Australia on the 2nd of May, almost to the year from when he was first sent out and was discharged as medically unfit.

He married (22 March 1919) Margery, daughter of Dr. Brabazon  Newcomen Casement.

After the War he returned to banking. He became manager of the English Scottish and Australia Bank at its branches at Banaway, Homebush and Moss Vale in New South Wales.

He died on the 20th August 1965. 

 RICHARD ALIC (Ray) YONGE: He was born 24 August 1884 at Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia. He married in 1912 Lucinda Maude Cecily Hogan.

 He enlisted at Toowomba in December 1915 and embarked from Australia in May 1916 as part of reinforcements  for the  52nd Infantry Battalion which formed part of the 13th Brigade 4th Infantry Division.

Dogged by ill health he was in and out of hospital and never left England for the front. He embarked for Australia again in October 1917 and in February 1918 he was discharged from the Army as being permanently unfitfor military service.

This information is obtained from official and family sources. Interestingly his name does not appear in the records of the “Australian Memorial” though it does in The Australian Archives”.

In WWII, he was a private in the Queensland 7th Bt Volunteer Defence Corps (April 1942 to October 1945). He married three times, no children. He died in 1953.

 LOUIS WATSON YONGE: He  was born 1890 in Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia. Enlisted in Pittsworth and served overseas in 2nd Remounts in WWI.  He joined up in October 1915 (number 2210)and embarked for Egypt in 1O November 1915  in the Orontes from Sydney  with over 700 other reinforcements   He was a station hand on his father farm at Puslinch Pittsworth Queensland but had spend 6th months in   amilitia unit the 3rd Light Horse.

The distinguished reputation of Australian horses in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns was in no small part due to the work of the remount units, which were responsible for their training. When the Light Horse left for Gallipoli in 1915, they left behind detachments to take care of the horses. To free these men to rejoin their regiments, two remount units were formed in September 1915, each of four squadrons. The 2nd Remounts were formed in Sydney. The units contained a high proportion of Boer War veterans and expert horsemen. Presumably Louis was in the latter category. By the time they arrived in Egypt however, the evacuation of Gallipoli was imminent. Accordingly, at the end of March 1916 the units were reduced by half.

Louis wa snot long in egypt before he was first admitted to a series of hospitals suffering from Exophalmic Goitre  on the 16th February 1916. The condition is said to have arisen in camp in Egypt but it is not marked as arising out of military duties. He was invalided home from to Australia on the 19th of April 1916 as being permanently unfit for military duties. He was awarded a pension but for some reason this was cancelled in 1917. 

 He married in 1928 Marie Cunningham. They had one son. Louis died in 1941.

 JOHN “Jack” ARTHUR YONGE. He was born 18 May 1893. Pilot in Royal Naval Air Service in World War I and in 1918 moved to the newly created Royal Air Force. Served principally in the English Channel and in the Aegean.  Awarded the DFC.

 He was trained as a pilot at Hendon and obtained his pilots certificate in August 1915. His first active posting was in June 1916 to April 1917 when and served initially at Dover flying Short Sea planes from HMS Riviera which were involved in operations over the Channel and the Belgium coast. as part of the Dover Patrol.

 The Dover Patrol was a  Royal Navy command. Its primary task was to prevent enemy German shipping—chiefly submarines—from entering the English Channel  en route to the Atlantic, thereby obliging the Germansto travel via the much longer route around Scotland which was itself covered by strong British forces. It became one of the most important Royal Navy commands of the First World War.

The Dover Patrol assembled a grouoing of all types of warships large and small, except battleships. including seaplanes land planes and airships. With these resources it performed several duties simultaneously in the Southern North Sea and the Dover Straightss: carrying out anti-submarine patrols; escorting merchantmen, hospital and troop ships; laying sea-mines and even constructing mine barrages; sweeping up German mines; bombarding German military positions and the ports on the Belgian coast..

HMS Riviera was a seaplane tender which served in the Royal Navy. Riviera was purchased in February 1915 by the Admiralty and she was modified in April 1915 with a permanent, four-aircraft, hangar in the rear and a pair of cranes were mounted at the rear of the hangar to hoist the seaplanes in and out of the water.  She also carried a pigeon loft that housed carrier pigions to be used by her aircraft if their wireless was broken. The Riviera mainly  saw service with the Dover Patrol.


By October 1917 he was then posted to the Aegean. After service in the Gallipoli campaign, in 27 March 1917, the ship was transferred to Mudros  to serve as a depot ship for all the seaplanes assigned to No. 2 Wing RNAS, which controlled all RNAS aircraft in the area. The Ark Royal there until April 1918 where she moved to the island of Syross, where she could support the seaplanes of No 62 Wing of the newly formed Royalo Air Force (RAF) on anti-submarine patrols; part of the former No. 2 Wing RNAS redesignated when the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps were merged to form the RAF. Ark Royal was transferred to Piraeus in October and was still there when the armistice with Turkey was signed on 31 October. The ship joined the Allied fleet that occupied Constantipople after the surrender.

Out there Jack was flying landplanes. No 2 Wing, known as the Aegean Group flew landplanes from aerodromes situated on several  small islands in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish, Bulgarian and the Greek coasts. This often involved flying for long distances over the sea and rugged enemy held territory in Thrace and Macedonia, bombing strategic targets in the eastern Mediterranean and patrolling the Aegean waters.  The problems of flying in this area were compounded by heat and dust which often meant overheated and clogged engines. 

On the 1st April 1918, on the formation of the Royal Air Force, number 222 Squadron RAF was formed at Thasos from the R.N.A.S. units.  Planes flown were DH4’s, DH9’s,  Sopwith Camels and Strutters. Although not mentioned by name in squadron records, he was almost certainly involved when on the 19th of January 1918 the German ships the Goeben and the Breslaw slipped their moorings and sailed into the Aegean. The records do refer to a number of pilots by name but the references seem to be to the bomber planes and not the escorting fighter. The Breslaw sank, after hitting a mine and the British then concentrated on the Goeben which ran aground but failed to sink her.

 After the war he moved to Canada.  He returned to Britain in 1940 and in World War II served in the Royal Air Force with Link ground trainers. He reputedly helped to train the Dambuster pilots. After the war he lived and farmed at Llangurig, mid Wales. He died 15 November 1973. He was married in Canada. There were no children.




Somewhere in France - Author's own photo

Elizabeth McGlone 05.09.2019 07:03

This is an appreciative sharing by the author. I will exchange it with my dad after his https://www.goldenbustours.com/san-francisco-tours/.Hope he will like it

Samantha 28.01.2015 23:17

Dear Ian,
Thank you so much your help with my research is much appreciated. The epidemic hit Plymouth, Plympton , Brixton but not Yealmpton, Thankyou

Samantha 15.02.2015 16:07

Dear Ian, did you have a chance to look at Dr James Yonges notes/Diary regarding 1689 and any epidemics in Plymouth , Thankyou in advance

Samantha 28.01.2015 16:56

Dear Ian,
If you have a copy of Dr James Yonges diary does he mention any particular epidemic of 1689 which hit Plymouth and some surrounding areas.

Ian Yonge 28.01.2015 20:16


Yes I do have a copy. I am away a few days and unless I can get anyone at home to check the reference, I will do so as soon as I am back.


Mary 15.01.2015 19:48

Apologies. Found it. Can't get the staff!

Mary 15.01.2015 19:06

Fascinating docs. Just wondering whether you have a continuation page for the War Diary for 23rd October 1916, the day Harry was killed. Thanks

Mary 15.01.2015 11:54

Many thanks. All docs received.

Mary 15.01.2015 02:56

Hi Ian, Just wondering whether you ever managed to send any Yonge documents - I didn't receive anything.

Tom Cromie 02.01.2015 16:03

I am trying to trace the ancestry of Charles Francis Cromie born Cincinnati 1858. I have a Cromie family tree dating back to James Cromie born in Scotland 1677

Ian Yonge 14.01.2015 12:44


I am afraid I cannot add anything. I research just the Yonge family. Incidentally I have updated H Cromie entry.


Ian Yonge 21.11.2014 15:56


Thanks. Very sad and moving. If you would like copies of documents I have I will need your email address

Mary Kendall 21.11.2014 17:27

Thanks. mary.kendall1@btinternet.com. And by the way, the language in the clip I sent is definitely not mine!

Mary Kendall 21.11.2014 14:55


Mary Kendall 21.11.2014 13:59

The letter was sent to my grandmother. I found it amongst her possessions after she died and recently did much research to find out who he was.

Mary Kendall 21.11.2014 12:32

I have a last letter written by Henry Julian, son of Joanna Yonge, to be opened in the event of his death. See http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4252067.ece

Ian Yonge 21.11.2014 13:09

Thank you VERY much. Love to be able to read full letter & not just Times extract. What is your connection? Ian WIan

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Latest comments

27.10 | 10:41

Hi Ian....Has taken me a while but finally found your website. Brilliant. Will be in touch. Julian Hastings

20.06 | 13:06


Thanks. Praise always appreciated! I presume you are a descendant of Peter Herbert. You can email me on iyonge@legalisp.net for fuller reply


19.06 | 23:35

I am the Great-Great Grandson of Walter Francis Duke Young. This is such a great website and so interesting to read about the Yonge family history!!

27.05 | 17:13

Thank you for this account of Charlotte M Yonge. I wouldn't say she was a recluse, however, judging by her letters. https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/