Albert George YOUNG

YOUNG, Albert George

Service Number: 3476
Enlisted: 11 April 1916, Sydney, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 45th Infantry Battalion
Born: Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales, October 1882
Home Town: Alexandria, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: 16 November 1959, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

11 Apr 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3476, Sydney, New South Wales
24 Jan 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3476, 45th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 Jan 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3476, 45th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Anchises, Sydney
7 Dec 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 3476, 45th Infantry Battalion

Post - WW1

Following discharge from the AIF, Bert was fortunate to secure employment as a “time-keeper” at the Commonwealth Govt. Artificial Limb Factory, at Victoria Barracks in Sydney, where preference for employment was given to limbless soldiers.

Bert & family was further fortunate in being allocated one of the cottages being built in Matraville (South-East Sydney) for maimed returned servicemen and widows.

In 1917, 72.5 acres (29.3 ha) of Crown Land at Matraville was allocated for a settlement for maimed soldiers returning from World War I, and widows of soldiers killed during the War.

This parcel became one of the first large residential developments in the area - between 1918 and 1925.

The Voluntary Workers Association was formed to build homes for soldiers and their families, on the allocated land, which was located at the intersection of Anzac Parade and Beauchamp Road.

The first cottage at the settlement was completed in 1919 and the residential area became formally known as Matraville Soldiers Garden Village, but most commonly referred to as the Matraville Soldiers Settlement.

A total of ninety-three cottages were built between 1918 and 1925, but sadly, only one of these cottages still exist for in 1977 they were taken over by the NSW State Government (and despite public protest) all apart one cottages were demolished to make-way for construction of multi-story public housing apartment blocks.

All that remains now of the other cottages is a park with sections of sandstone walls and foundation stones laid by a number of people, including then Prime Minister William Morris Hughes.

Matraville is a suburb steeped in Anzac history, with all area roads commemorating battlefields of WWI. These include Lone Pine, Amiens, Ypres, Pozieres, Beauchamp, Menin, Flanders, Amiens, Bullecourt, Bapaume, Hamel, Armentieres, etc.

Despite having been dealt such heavy blows by the War, the Matraville Soldier Settlement community remained staunchly patriotic, as shown by their energetic participation in commemorations of the War, and when World War 2 came along in 1939, supporting their sons & daughters in serving their country.

Further evidence of the community spirit shown by many of these ex-servicemen is that Bert became a Lay Deacon of the St. George Anglican Church, at Matraville.

Sadly, loss of a leg was not the end of Bert’s War service health problems and for the rest of his life he was plagued by constant pain in both his right stump and left leg, which Doctors initially believed to be indications of dementia, but eventually (and much later) found to be due to bullet wound scar tissue adhesions to nerves running through his legs.

In time Bert retired from the work, and died on 16th November, 1959.

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Pre WW1, and AIF Service

Albert George YOUNG was born in the small NSW rural town of Lake Cudgellico (now spelt Lake Cargellico) in 1882, to mother Catherine Wells and Father Traugott Young.

Bert’s father was employed by the (then) NSW Post Master General’s Department, and held appointment as Post Master in a number of small NSW country towns, where Bertie spent his childhood years, such as: Lake Cargellico, Yetman, Emmaville, Gulgong, and Gundagai

Sadly, little is known about Albert’s early life, other than for the purpose of completing his education he stayed for a period of time his Aunt Amelia and her brother, Uncle Willie. Though not yet absolutely proven, research indicates that around the time Bert would have gone to stay with his Aunt & Uncle, they were living in Sydney.

The only other information that has survived about Bert’s early life is that when he married in 1905 his occupation was records as being a Barman, which is not surprising, seeing his family had a long history of owning and operated hotels.

A couple of stories that have come down through family form Bert’s time with Aunt Amelia & Uncle Willie, which supported the then un-proven (but now firmly established) belief that the family was of German descent, are :
1. Aunt Amelia, who was a very pro-German minded spinster, would only give coins to street musicians provided the play German Music.
2. In the house Bert stayed (Amelia’s / Willie’s?) were a number of books printed in German.

Whist this is purely speculative, and does not really make much difference, perhaps Bert’s German ancestory and the fact Aunt Amelia and Bert’s Father Traugott (both pro-German?) died during 1916, influenced his decision to leave it until that year to join the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF)?

A more likely cause is that at the out-break of WW1, Bert was married with three young children, and his wife Isobel was a formidably strong-willed woman, who probably was not keen at all about the idea of Bert going off to War.

However, by 1916 the number of casualties being suffered by the AIF were so numerous, and resultant need for reinforcements so urgent, that significant emotional pressure was put upon able-bodied men to enlist, so much so that men risked being publically labelled a coward if they did not join-up.

Regardless of the circumstances, in April 1916 Bert enlisted in the AIF, and was assigned to the 9th reinforcements for the 45th Battalion, whom because of their dual blue unit colour patch, and being a NSW battalion, had the nickname of the True-Blues.

After the end of WW1, the 45th Battalion became a territorial (reserve) army unit, which was based in the St George region of Sydney, and became known as the St. George Battalion, with the units badge featuring a motif of St George slaying a dragon.

Following initial training in the Kiama region, on 24 January 1917 Bert and other members of the 9th Reinforcements, boarded the HMAT Anchises and commenced thier journey to the battlefields.

After completing further training in England, and a brief period of hospitalization due to illness, Bert joined the 45th Battalion at the front in mid 1917.

Having only been with the Battalion on the “Western Front” for a few months, on 11th October, Bert was hit multiple times in both legs by German machinegun fire, which ultimately led to his Right leg having to be amputated.

The ground on which the Battle of Passchendaele was fought (a more detailed narrative about the Battle follows), was a massive quagmire of mud and stagnant water, the ground having be torn to shreds by years of artillery bombardment.

The area of the front that the 45th Battalion had responsibility was so torn-up that trenches no longer
existed, and instead, the troops were positioned in small groups, in a rough line of shell-holes.

In demonstration of how much of a slaughter-house Passchendaele was, are the following official October 1917 casualty figures for the 45th Battalion, which had having a normal compliment of 900-1000 men, equated to an approx. 25% casualty rate !
Killed - 2 Officers, and 50 Other Ranks
Wounded - 6 Officers, and 160 Other Ranks
Missing - 1 Officer, and 3 Other Ranks
Total Combined - 9 Officers, and 213 Other Ranks

The exact circumstances surrounding Bert becoming wounded are not
known but Bert did tell his sons that soon after being wounded, Stretcher Bearers appeared and commenced to carry him to an aid-station, however, they soon lost their way. Telling Bert they would come back for him as soon as they could work-out which way to go, they placed him in a shell-hole but tragically, almost as soon as they went into open ground, they were killed by German artillery fire.

A consequence of this being that Bert lay for many hours in the shell-hole before he was discovered by other Australian troops, and eventually reached a field aid (medical) station.

Likely due to the extended time spent laying in befouled mud & stagnant water, the bullet wounds in Bert’s Right leg became infected with Gas-Gangrene, which eventually necessitated amputation high above the knee.

After attention of his wounds, Bert was then transferred to a Field-Hospital, and so commenced his journey back to England where he spent months in Hospitals and underwent multiple operations.

On 23 July 1918, Bert left England aboard HT Wilshire, arrived Australia on 3rd October 1918, and discharge from the Army on 7th December, 1918 as “Medically Unfit”.

Battle of Passchendaele
The Battle of Passchendaele took place in Belgium, between July and November 1917, and claimed a staggering 2,121 lives a day and in total some quarter of a million Allied soldiers.

What was once pretty countryside around the Belgian village that gave the battlefield its name was reduced to an infernal swamp where the ground oozed with foul-smelling slime, and mustard gas that blistered the skin and made the lungs bleed.

One of the major conflicts of World War I, it was conceived by British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig as a “big push” that would, finally, bring a breakthrough in the stalemate in Flanders.

Officially named the Third Battle of Ypres, the hope was that by breaking through German lines at this point on the Western Font, the Allies could reach the Belgium coast and capture the German submarines based there.

The Allies prepared the way with a massive two-week bombardment in which 3,000 heavy guns sent more than four million shells pouring into the German lines. Then on July 31, the troops poured into No Man’s Land that within days and under torrential rain had become a sodden bog, which became so deep, men, horses and pack-mules drowned in it.

What was supposed to be a breakthrough became a battle of attrition.

By November, the British and Empire forces had advanced just five miles (8 kilometers) at a terrible cost, to take the village of Passchendaele – which provided them with an excuse to halt.

Their one consolation was that the Germans had also suffered grievously.



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