Victoria Cross paving stone unveiled

2017 Youens VC stone_buglers and salutes around the stone

Wycombe born war hero Second Lieutenant Frederick Youens, who received a posthumous Victoria Cross, has been remembered at a special ceremony to mark the centenary of his death.

Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, honoured the valour of Second Lt Youens with the unveiling of WW1 VC paving stone next to the War Memorial outside All Saints Church in High Wycombe town centre.

The Leader of Wycombe District Council Council, Cllr Katrina Wood; the Chairman of the Council, Cllr Suzanne Brown; and Cabinet Member for Community, Cllr Graham Peart also attend the ceremony. They were joined by Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion, cadets and representation from Royal Grammar School - where Youens was a pupil - and 30 members of the Youens family.

Cllr Graham Peart said: "“This is an understated memorial that marks out a moment of bravery that’s just beyond comprehension.

"We’re now in a very privileged position to be able to enjoy the freedom we do because of the actions of Frederick Youens and hundreds of thousands of men like him. It’s really very humbling.”

Frederick Youens VC was born on 14 August 1892 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He was the son of Vincent Youens, a basket maker, and Elizabeth (née Russell).

He won a scholarship to the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. In 1912 Frederick was Assistant Schoolmaster at St Peter’s School, Rochester Kent until August 1914 when he enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).

In May 1915 he was posted to the East Surrey Regiment and, in September 1915, took part in the Battle of Loos, France. He rescued many wounded soldiers on the battlefield until he himself was seriously wounded and he was evacuated to the UK.

By August 1916 he was a Lance Corporal in the 3rd Battalion and was then promoted to Acting Corporal. He turned down several clerical posts where he could have obtained fast promotion and, in January 1917 he was commissioned as 2nd Lt in 13th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. He joined his battalion in Bollezeele France.

It was on 7 July 1917 that he earned his VC near Hill 60, Zwartoleen, Ypres in Belgium where he was severely wounded and died two days later. His final rank was Temporary Second Lieutenant. He was 23 years old when he died and he was buried in Railway Dugout Burial Ground near Zilleboke Belgium Plot 1, Row 0, Grave 3.

His citation reads: "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. While out on patrol this officer was wounded and had to return to his trenches to have his wounds dressed. Shortly afterwards a report came in that the enemy were preparing to raid our trenches. Second Lt Youens regardless of his wound, immediately set out to rally the team of a Lewis Gun, which had become disorganised owing to heavy shell fire.

"During this process an enemy’s bomb fell on the Lewis Gun position without exploding. Second Lt Youens immediately picked it up and hurled it over the parapet. Shortly afterwards another bomb fell near the same place, again Second Lt Youens picked it up with the intention of throwing it away, when it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and also some of his men.

"There is little doubt that the prompt and gallant action of Second Lt Youens saved several of his men’s lives and that by his energy and resource the enemy’s raid was completely repulsed. This gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds."