Private Bertram John Young - MM

Date of Birth c. 1879
Age at Death 38
Date of Death 20 July 1917
Service Number 75073
Military Service D Battalion Tank Corps
Merton Address 25 Oxford Avenue Merton Park
Local Memorial St. Mary's Church, Merton Park

Additional Information

Born in 1879 in Hampton, near Richmond, Surrey, Bertram was the oldest child of John Young and his wife Martha. (The couple went on to have a further six children, four daughters and two sons. An eighth child died in infancy.) During Bertram’s early childhood, his father was in the army. The 1881 census shows him based at a barracks in Canterbury. Meanwhile his wife was working as a greengrocer’s assistant and lodging at her sister’s home in Farnham, together with her young son and five month old daughter, Mabel.

By the time his younger brother Thomas was born in 1896, they were living at 6, Wellington Road, Hampton Hill, and by the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved around the corner to 5 Seymour Road, Hampton. John Young was now a commercial clerk, whilst Bertram and his younger brother William were working for a blacksmith. Their sister Charlotte has also found employment as a milliner.
The 1911 census shows the Young family living in a fairly large property at 14 Pelham Road, Wimbledon. Bertram was now a motor engineer and during the war he served with the Royal Army Service Corps. This unit was responsible for supplying food, ammunition and supplies using both horses and motor vehicles, often in dangerous conditions.

Bertram later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and subsequently the Tank Corps, formed in 1916. This initially consisted of six companies and was mainly staffed by troops from the Machine Gun Corps. Four companies were sent to France in August 1916, taking part in the Somme offensive that September. By November 1916 the Tank Corps had been expanded to form battalions, each supported by a mobile engineering team to service the vehicles.
Bertram was a Private in D Battalion of the Tank Corps. Clearly an effective soldier, in January 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in battle. By coincidence his youngest brother, Thomas (a stretcher bearer in the East Surrey Regiment ) also received this medal, whilst participating in the same engagement.

Bertram later took part in the battle of Cambrai ( 20 November – 7 December 1917,) one of the first offensives to feature a mass assault by tanks. During the early stages the British made significant progress, however their initial gains were soon lost. Bertram was killed on the first day of battle but sadly his body could not be identified. He is one of 7000 Allied servicemen commemorated on the Cambrai memorial at Louverval, France.

At the time of Bertram’s death, his widowed mother was living at 25 Oxford Avenue, Merton Park – this probably explains why he is also commemorated on a memorial at St. Mary’s church. His name appears alongside that of his brother, Thomas (17 years his junior), who died on 24 September 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele.


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