Victoria Cross winner honoured with lasting memorial
A commemorative stone has been unveiled to honour the memory of a Victoria Cross winner.
Private Thomas Young was honoured at a special ceremony today - marking the 100th anniversary of the act of gallantry which won him the highest of all military honours.
During the final year of the First World War, he saved nine wounded men from the front line in France.
The new memorial was unveiled at the war memorial site in Cotswold Lane, Boldon Colliery - Pte Young’s birthplace.
The service of dedication led by Methodist lay Pastor Marjorie Brown, saw members of Pte Young’s family turn out, along with the Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Olive Punchion and Major Chris Lawton, on behalf of Pte Young’s former regiment - The Durham Light Infantry.
The event included prayers of dedication and remembrance, a minute’s silence, and ‘Reveille’, played by DLI buglers.
The Mayor Coun Punchion and Major Chris Lawton also laid wreaths by the memorial stone.
Pte Young’s grandson John Milner, 71, from Stoke, was joined by 12 members of the family to see the memorial.
Mr Milner, who is one of Pte Young’s seven grandchildren, said the family were honoured to have a lasting tribute to him.
He said: “He was born here, so it is a fitting tribute.
“We are very honoured and it means a lot.
“People up here have been amazing and it is absolutely fantastic for them to turn out to see it.
“We come up here quite a bit and will come and pay our respects here whenever we are up.
“I am very proud.”
Pte Thomas Young was born Thomas Morrell in Boldon Colliery in January 1895 and worked as a miner at High Spen Colliery in Durham, but served as a stretcher bearer with DLI during the war.
He was honoured for his bravery in March 1918 when he saved the lives of nine men at Bucquoy, France, by - in broad daylight - leaving his trench under heavy fire to bring wounded men from the front line and into cover.
King George V presented him with his Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace in June 1918. After the war, Pte Young went back down the pit.
He died in October 1966, aged 71. A statue of him stands in South Shields Town Hall.
The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme that will see every Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War commemorated with a paving stone in communities around the UK.
Chris Lawton said: “It is fantastic that people have turned up on a damp and miserable day for the unveiling.
“If anybody deserves a Victoria Cross, Pte Young does for his incredible human kindness and respect for fellow soldiers.”
Two more South Tyneside men were awarded the medal during the First World War - Pte Henry Robson and Joseph Henry Collin.
A commemorative stone to mark the centenary of the brave actions of Pte Robson was unveiled in Robson Way, South Shields, in December 2014 and Joseph Collin, from Jarrow will be honoured next month.