Just over a year before they received the bad news about Malcolm, Mr & Mrs Young had had to come to terms with the loss of their eldest son, Edmund, who was killed at Gallipoli whilst serving with the Manchester Regiment.
The family originated from Marple but the 1901 Census shows them living at “Wallfield”, Stand, Whitefield. Thomas Young owned a very successful business bleaching and dying cotton. He was a rich man who could afford to employ five live-in servants – a nurse, two housemaids, cook and a waitress.
Harry Young was at Cambridge University when War was declared but volunteered for the army and, as was common for middle class young men, he was quickly selected to become an officer.
A few miles south of Harry’s Battalion on 28 June was the area that would come to be called the Battle of the Somme. In an attempt to keep the Germans guessing as to exactly where the attack would come, a number of diversionary tactics were employed. They were also intended to prevent the Germans from moving troops to the more likely sector. For several miles north of the battlefield, a series of raids were planned on the German trenches. These would take place on the days and nights running up to the actual attack. 50 men, including Harry, trained for the Fusiliers’ raid for two weeks, which would take place at Blairville.
British artillery bombarded the German trenches for several days and, at 5.35pm on the 28th, smoke was released and the raising party moved out into No Man’s Land, splitting into three groups.
No doubt warned by the discharge of smoke, the German machine gunners will have opened fire into No Man’s Land and the Regimental History records that several casualties were suffered. “Captain Hutchinson was badly wounded on the way across but, lying in the open, he continued to direct the actions of his party and to cheer them on.”
Harry was commanding the left hand group of men and was reported to have been mortally wounded soon after setting out. The group was then led by a Private Hutchinson “who did excellent work with the bayonet”. They made it into the enemy trench and spread as much death and destruction as they could. When the time came to withdraw, Hutchinson held off the enemy until all the men were safely clear and the wounded carried back. For this bravery, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The other two parties had also managed to enter the enemy trench but both were quickly forced to retire. Nearly 75% of the raiding party had become casualties – dead, wounded or missing. Harry and Captain Bloy were two officers who had died. They will have been buried close to where they died but, after the Armistice, many of these small front line burial areas were closed as the land was retuned to civilian use. Their bodies were moved to a new “concentration” Cemetery at Fillievres where their graves are now tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.