b. 16/06/1921 Esher, Surrey. d. 24/07/1944 Italy.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23-24/07/1944 Citta di Castello.
St John Graham Young (1921-1944) was born on 16th June 1921 in Esher, Surrey, the son of St John Maitland and Mary Lilian Young (nee Gilmour). He had two siblings, Margaret Ann (who died as an infant) and Douglas Hardy. Graham and Douglas both attended Grenham House Prep School in Kent before moving to Bloxham School in Oxfordshire. Whilst at Bloxham, Graham, who was fine athlete, joined the Officer Training Corps, and showed a natural flair for leadership.
On the outbreak of World War II, Graham received a Regular Army Commission into the Royal Armoured Corps on 3rd January 1942 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He served initially in Iraq in the latter part of 1942, and in 1944, was promoted to War Substantive Lieutenant and was posted to the Italian Front.
On the night of 23rd-24th July 1944, Graham was in command of a patrol that had been ordered to occupy Point 403, a hill feature near Citta di Castello. As the patrol neared its objective in the dark, explosions were heard and Young believed he was under mortar fire. He ordered a withdrawal but while this happened, more explosions came in their midst. He realised that they were in a minefield, so he at once ordered everyone to stay where they were until daylight. After two hours Sowar Niru, who had been wounded and was in great pain, began asking for help. Young began to crawl forward, probing in front with his fingers; he located and rendered harmless 3 mines, but then he knelt on another. The explosion blew his right leg off. He called out to his men that he was wounded but that no one was to come near him. He then continued to crawl forward and reached Niru, whom he found was unconscious, and in the company of Sowar Ditto Ram, who had also lost a leg on a mine. They applied a dressing on the wound. At first light Jemadar Hosenak Singh reached the three men. The Sowars had both died, but he carried Lieutenant Young out of the minefield. Half an hour later, Young was up giving orders to his men. Sadly, he died later that day.
Initially, there was a recommendation for Graham to be awarded the Victoria Cross, but after numerous amounts of correspondence, it was decided that he was to receive a posthumous George Cross (London Gazette 17th July 1945). Graham was buried in Arezzo War Cemetery in Italy, and it was left to his parents to travel to London and receive his GC from King George VI. It was presented on the same day that the widow of Arthur Nicholls GC was there to receive his GC. The Young family still retains ownership of Graham’s medals, though the Royal Tank Corps Museum at Bovington, Dorset holds a replica GC.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WITH RECIPIENT'S FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: AREZZO WAR CEMETERY, ITALY.
PLOT VI, ROW 8, GRAVE 8.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier