Montrose flyer honoured after 99 year delay

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An Angus historical detective’s research has had the name of a downed Great War pilot added to the rolls of honour at Edinburgh Castle.

Thanks to the diligence of Patrick Anderson the name of 2nd Lieutenant John Stevenson Young, Royal Flying Corps, who died in 1918, will be added to the rolls at the Scottish National War Memorial.

Mr Anderson, a retired police sergeant living in Letham, is a keen investigator of historical anomalies, having recently secured the acceptance of three Arbroath casualties to the rolls.

For some reason 2nd Lt Young, stationed with 36 Training Squadron at Montrose, was omitted from the RFC and RAF returns following the war.

A friend of Mr Anderson found Young’s name on the Glenalmond College register where he had been a pupil and which also recorded his death. Further digging by Mr Anderson found Young listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission index and that he was buried in New Kilpatrick Parish Churchyard as he was born in Bearsden, Dumbartonshire, but there was no sign of him on the national memorial.

Here Mr Anderson takes up the tale: “I found his casualty card for the RFC as he was flying Sopwith Camel no. B7344 on February 3, 1918, and it reports ‘The Court examined the witnesses and the wreckage and are of the opinion that the accident was not due to any fault of the machine but was in all probability due to pilot having lost consciousness in the accident. The machine was seen spinning at 1500 feet and may have been spinning from a considerable height which may have caused the pilot to lose consciousness. The pilot was 28 years of age and had passed most of his life in a tropical climate and suffered from malaria.’ The casualty card is very blunt, it records the officer’s name, the machine he was flying, date of the flight and recorded ‘Killed - failed to come out of spin.’

“I found that he is listed in the 1901 Census but he is not listed on the 1911 census as he must have been overseas, as he was a mining engineer. I do not know where that was, but it was an area where he got his malaria.

“He qualified as a flying officer in the Royal Flying Corps on December 15, 1917, so he was nearly ready to be sent overseas in the Great War when he was killed flying at RFC Montrose.”

Sadly for Young’s widowed mother her application to the War Office for medals was denied because he had not served overseas.

Now nearly a century later 2nd Lt Young will get a portion of the recognition his sacrifice is due thanks to Mr Anderson: “I submitted a detailed file to Lt Col Roger J. Binks, Keeper of the Rolls at the Scottish National War Memorial and I have had notification back from him saying that the Trustees of the SNWM had accepted the facts and that Lt Young’s name will be added to the Roll. His name will be recorded on the RFC (Great War) roll of honour pages at the castle and on the website when it is next updated. I am pleased that 2nd Lt Young, RFC, has now been added and will be remembered.”