Son of William and Elizabeth Young of Fox Yard, Wetherby.
was born at Bilton-in-Ainsty circa 1882 to parents William, occupation, a Farm Labourer, and Elizabeth Young, the family residing
in 1881 in the ancient hamlet of Syningthwaite located between Bilton and Walton. Ultimately one of ten children of which
three would unfortunately die, at some point between the years 1891 - 1901, possibly 1899, the family relocated to Wetherby,
their residence being established in premises located at Number 26, Fox Yard, off Bank Street.
In the 1901 Census, there is no record of Tom residing at his parents address
however surviving pension records denote his occupation before enlistment as that of a Farmer, more accurately I surmise,
employed as an Agricultural Labourer.
Enlistment & Early Service
An analysis of the serial number issued, 8060, and
the Soldiers Effects records indicates that Tom enlisted into the British Army on or about the 5th of December 1905
at York. After undergoing a routine medical examination to determine height, weight, chest expansion and eyesight, he was
accepted for military service and subsequently posted to the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Initial service was then
conducted at the Regimental Depot located at York and upon completion of his training he was then posted to the 1st Battalion
of the Regiment, a Regular Army Battalion who at this juncture were stationed in India. The actual date for Tom's posting
overseas is not known however in the 1911 Census recorded in India, he is located along with his battalion at Connaught Barracks,
Rawalpindi in the Punjab, Officer Commanding, Colonel Walter de Sausmarez Cayley.
In late December 1911, the battalion returned to the United Kingdom onboard
the H.M.T. "Rewa" after nearly seventeen years service overseas. Docking at Southampton on the 29th, the
battalion then proceeded into quarters at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield. Tom however was not amongst their number as whilst
docking at Malta on the 21st of December, the ship disembarked 320 men of the West Yorkshire Regiment. (Source:- The Scotsman
dated the 21st of December 1911). The Yorkshire Post dated the 30th of December 1911 also records this transfer of men:-
which is under the command of Colonel W. de S. Cayley, has at present a total strength of 651 of all ranks, and 304 men were
left in Malta for transfer to the 2nd Battalion, which was recently in Leeds during the railway strike, and which is to leave
England next month for the Mediterranean".
So, Tom was now effectively transferred to the 2nd Battalion who were at
this juncture stationed at Colchester preparing for their imminent departure for foreign climes. With orders to relieve the
2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment who were to proceed to Egypt, it was on the 10th of January 1912 that the 2nd West Yorkshire's
departed their barracks and journeyed to Southampton. Embarking on the SS "Rewa," the battalion, Officer
Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel Henry O'Donnell, duly arrived at Malta on the 17th of January. One former pupil of the Western
Council School, Harrogate, Lance-Corporal Walter Elsworth, 8796, describes in a lengthy letter printed in the Knaresborough
Post dated the 24th of February 1912 his experiences of embarkation and the journey to Malta, and of his experiences on the
"Fort Manoel, Malta,
February 1st, 1912.
Dear Sir, - Now that we are settled in our new quarters, I shall take much pleasure in writing to let you know
how I am getting on, also a little about the island upon which I find myself deposited. First of all, I shall have to tell
you about our passage out here, then try and explain to you how "trooping" and embarking is carried out. On January
10th we arrived at Southampton to embark on H.M. troopship Rewa and this is the systematic way we went to work. I say "systematic"
because everything in the Army is worked out on a system, hence the smooth way that apparently big schemes are carried out
without the least trouble or lack of discipline. Firstly, all the heavy baggage and soldiers kits are stowed away in the ship's
hold, with the few exceptions of things for use during the voyage, such as men's toilet and cleaning requisites, band
instruments, and various games. This done, everyone is "fell in" on the landing-stage, and "told off"
in messes of 18, each mess being in charge of a N.C.O. I am using a little military phraseology because I know you will be
able to understand it by your previous experience of the Army and its ways. I may here state that messing on board a troopship
is usually very great "messes" indeed. To resume, after all are told off they embark to the strains of "Auld
lang syne" and "The girl he left behind him" etc. then proceed to their own mess tables to partake of a nice
meal which afterwards is required to "feed the fishes" with. Sea sickness was quite the "fashion" for
the first couple of days and the better sailors amongst us had quite a "picnic" out of their comrades uneaten rations.
Needless to say that I did not figure with the above lucky bounders as I was too busy on the "troop deck" with my
head hung over the taff-rail. When the majority were better, gymnastic parades came into swing, and everyone volunteered for
these, as not only was it good for all, but it varied the monotony of continual sea and sky; in short, it was "something
to do." When details were published the following evening, we were informed that the "high seas mail" would
pass us sometime within the next 24 hours, and a rush was made on the grocery bar for notepaper and stamps. This, I may say,
was the first place that your present to me proved itself very useful indeed. Eventually we sighted Malta, and steamed into
the grand harbour at Valletta, and disembarking was carried out with equally as much system and order as the embarking at
Southampton. Here the regiment spit up into halves; one-half went to Floriana, and our half came here to man Fort Manoel.
Of course all this happened in the dark, so we did not see much of our new station, but as soon as the day dawned the following
morning everyone turned out on the balcony to get a glimpse of their new "home." The whole of the houses here, with
the exception of places of note, such as the churches, synagogues, and the Governor's palace, are built of white stone,
and have got flat roofs; the latter boast of gold-painted domes and an occasional square tower. The inhabitants are a very
queer race indeed, and nearly all are bare-footed. Every man, woman and child that can possibly hold a pipe in their teeth
smokes. It really does seem strange to one just leaving England to see boys and girls of eight and nine years old with an
old clay in their mouths, especially when the Tobacco and Drugs Act is in force at home. I suppose it is the cheapness of
the weed that makes smoking so popular; tobacco is only 1d. per oz. and cigarettes are 100 for 4d., cigars 60 for 6d. It almost
makes me wish I smoked myself. Oranges are also dirt cheap; you can obtain the finest oranges or Tangerines at 8 and 10 for
1d. You may guess by this that no soldier is short of his after dinner "dessert." All this sounds in our favour
regarding cheapness but on the other hand one cannot exist on oranges and tobacco and any groceries or bread costs twice as
much as it does at home. Of course all these things are imported. Even newspapers cost twice as much as they are marked. One
more strange fact I must mention to you before I close; that is about the herds of goats which parade the streets loose all
the day, eating anything in the way of refuse they can pick up. Old paper seems to be quite a treat for them, and an old match-box
is apparently quite a luxury. The goat's milk vendor does not go round his customers with a cart and can like our milkmen,
but he drives the whole of the herd with him and milks a goat straight into his customer's jug or basin - in the lower
parts of an old cocoa tin or "bully-beef" can serves this purpose. How would you like this way in England? Another
strange being is the "cabby." His vehicle is called a "carrozine" and a very quaint mode of travel it
is too. It is drawn by a mule, which is quite as stupid as any mule you have got in England. The fare for this is 4d., no
matter how far you go or how long you charter the carrozine for - 4d. is the fare. You must excuse me now, sir, as I have
quite a lot of clerical work to do regimentally. On this plea and with your permission, I will close with kindest regards
to the teachers and scholars, also hoping you will not forget how eagerly-looked for a letter from England is.
I am, Sir,
Your old and affectionate scholar,
Lance-Corpl., "E" Company, 2nd P.W.O. West Yorks. Regt."
Based at both Fort Manoel and Floriana Barracks, the first official duties performed by the battalion were conducted
on the 24th of January when the King and Queen arrived at Malta onboard the requisitioned "Medina". Escorted
by the cruisers "Natal", "Cochrane" and "Defence", the Royal Yacht entered
Valetta Harbour with the Royal Party disembarking at about 11.30 a.m. After inspecting a Guard of Honour performed by the
2nd Gloucestershire Regiment, the party were then entertained by a march past led by General Sir Leslie Rundle, Governor and
Commander-in-Chief of Malta, followed by the Staff of his Headquarters. The parade was then followed by three hundred French
seamen from the battleships "Danton," "Justice" and "Verite" accompanied by
their officers. A naval brigade then marched past with their field guns whereupon the King then received the salute of the
seamen. With General Rundle now placing himself at the head of the Royal Garrison Artillery, these were led by followed by
the Royal Engineers, 2nd West Yorkshire's, 2nd Gloucestershire Regiment, 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, 1st Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders and finally the 2nd Scottish Rifles. (Source:- The Army And Navy Gazette dated the 27th of January
As the battalion settled in to their new surroundings, it was in February that there was a change in command. On
the 23rd of the month, Colonel O'Donnell had completed four years in command of the 2nd Battalion and was subsequently
placed on the 'Half-pay' List, Major George Fraser Phillips being the next senior officer and Second-in-Command now
being appointed the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and assuming command of the battalion. To replace Phillips as Second-in Command,
Major Francis William Towsey was appointed, an 'Old Sweat' who had witnessed service in various campaigns including
the Boer War.
In March and due to a complex political situation arising in Crete relating to a union of the island with Greece,
it was rumoured that the 2nd West Yorkshire's were to be despatched to the island by the Protective Powers, i.e. England,
France, Italy and Russia, who had decided upon a military reoccupation of Crete. Although these 'rumours' were persistent
and the West Yorkshire's had received orders to hold itself in a state of readiness, in 'official circles' it
was reported freely that the latter knew of nothing of any such decision.
On the 6th of May, the Regimental Colour was trooped
by the 2nd Battalion in commemoration of the King's accession in the presence of General Rundle. In addition to the Governor
and Commander-in-Chief, forty representatives of the Command were also included in the parade which was described by The Globe
dated the 6th of May 1912 as a "brilliant spectacle" which was witnessed by a vast concourse of onlookers.
was on the 9th of July 1912 that Lance-Corporal Elsworth, "Signallers," put pen to paper once again from Fort Manoel.
Writing to his old Headmaster Mr. James Whittaker Hammond at the Western Council School, Harrogate, he describes his travels
around the island of Malta and some of the daily routine experienced by the men of the 2nd West Yorkshire's. Published
in the Knaresborough Post dated the 27th of July, the letter reads as follows:-
"Dear Sir, - You will wonder what on earth
has happened to me, as I have not written to you for three or four months, but I have been trying to better my knowledge of
Malta and its people, so as to be able to construct an interesting letter for your perusal.
Since I wrote to you last I have travelled the
length and breadth of Malta (not much, 'tis true), and I have also paid a three days visit to the Island of Gozo, which
is the next largest of the Maltese Islands. Little did I think in my schooldays that I should visit the Colony whose emblem
I so proudly wore in my cap as a school badge some ten or twelve years ago. But, of course, one cannot control one's destiny,
and here I am in one of Britain's most treasured possessions - Malta! Whoever named Malta as the "Clapham Junction
of the Mediterranean" was perfectly right in doing so, as the majority of eastward or homeward bound vessels call here
for coaling, also to put off passengers for the Continent and Northern Africa. For this purpose Malta is invaluable. Although
Gibraltar is undoubtedly the "key of the Mediterranean," Malta constitutes the "lock." And judging
by the huge guns and fortifications, I should say if put to the test, Malta would make a very formidable "lock"
indeed. The various harbours are indeed one of Dame Nature's most treasured gifts to the island, and are impenetrable
to the most fierce storm.
I want to say a little about the inhabitants. It perhaps will be as well to mention that the proper Maltese race do not reside
in Malta at all, but they belong to the Island of Gozo, and an inhabitant of Gozo considers himself somewhat superior to an
inhabitant of Malta. Personally, I don't see much difference in the class. Gozo is undoubtedly the more productive island
of the two, not only for vegetation, but for eggs, mutton and goat's milk. In fact, I think the people of Gozo are much
more enterprising than those of Malta. The majority of the people are Roman Catholics and they are very loyal to their religion
indeed. I have seen them swimming with a sacred cross or rosary beads strung round their necks, and any Englishman who declares
to them that he is a Roman Catholic is thought a good deal of - in brief, he is "quids in." About a fortnight ago
they held a religious festival called "The feast of St. Paul," in commemoration of the time St. Paul was wrecked
on the island. (There is a "St. Paul's Bay" here, which marks the exact spot.) Fireworks were displayed on the
tops of churches, reminding one of the popular Saturday night displays at the Kursaal, and outside the porticos were hung
various fairy lanterns and gaudy flags and tapestries. On the whole a church looked like some picture palace in England wishing
to boom an exciting and most thrilling "cowboy and Indians" film they had on exhibition within.
I will now tell you what it feels like to "soldier"
out here. Soldiering abroad is all right as far as it goes, but to a chap like myself who has served four years at home, and
been used to an annual leave and several week-end passes during the year, the continual military routine gets somewhat monotonous.
To counteract this, the War Office authorities have arranged for "rest camps" to be pitched in various parts of
the country or colony in which one might be serving. This year several of our companies go to a place called Ghian Tuffehia
(sic) for six weeks. (Authors note:- Ghajn Tuffieha on the north-west coast of Malta). If you have any difficulty
to pronounce the words Ghian Tuffehia, just say "I interfere" then you will have the correct pronunciation. This
is one of the few words with a silent "G." Even whilst under canvas at Ghian Tuffehia, the strict order
of military discipline and routine must be partly adhered to. The only relaxation is shown in small offences known in the
service as "minor offences." Of course, it must be understood that so-called "crimes" in the Army would
be passed over as mere details in the civil world and probably laughed at, but in the Army such things are looked at from
an entirely different point of view. In civil life a man would be able to go about with as many days' growth of whiskers
on his face as he liked, also if his boots lacked a dazzling shine it would matter to no one, but here it is quite different.
After all I think it is best to be so, as cleanliness becomes everyone, either soldier or civilian. "Obedience"
is undoubtedly the first duty of a soldier, hence all this apparent "red tape" and almost impossible discipline.
It must not be thought that these "rest camps" comprise a six weeks' "loaf" for the troops, as it
most certainly does not. We have to keep fit and ready for emergency, and a climate like this of Malta is apt to give a chap
a liver the size of a football if exercise is not freely indulged in. Therefore to prevent this, we have a certain amount
of parades to accomplish. These mostly consist of gymnastics, running, swimming and an occasional drill parade; all these
are compulsory. Then, of course, we get cricket, quoits, and various other outdoor games, which give recreation as well as
excercise. Owing to the sun being so hot the times for bathing are set out for us. One stands a good chance of a sunstroke
if he enters the water between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Indeed it is dangerous to be out of doors this weather, unless
one's head is jambed firmly into a tropical sun helmet.
I read an account of the prize distribution in the "Harrogate Advertiser," and I was very pleased with
my old school's records. I was especially pleased to hear that the school had risen a "Titanic Fund" on their
own, as I thought it was a very needful case, also a most terrible disaster. No doubt you will read this letter to the scholars,
and in so doing I wish you to express my kindest regards to all, also to yourself and the teachers, hoping all are enjoying
the same good health as your affectionate old scholar.
Regarding the number of letters that were published in the local press, Walter, as a consequence, had his "leg
was pulled" by a number of his friends, one of them being a close acquaintance, Private Horace Ferrari, 9132, of Valley
Mount, Harrogate. It is more than apparent through Elsworth's letters that despite the battalion being posted overseas
to a 'Foreign Station,' discipline was maintained in the best traditions of the Regiment. During the months to come
and with tensions rising against the Ottoman Empire that would eventually result in the First Balkan War, at Malta, the 'question'
of Crete rose once again in October when it was reported that four companies of the Scottish Rifles, Gloucestershire Regiment
and the West Yorkshire's were to be placed in a state of readiness to be despatched to Crete. Placed under orders to await
the arrival of the H.M.T. "Rohilla" at Malta on the 20th of October, once again, orders were rescinded,
the 2nd West Yorkshire's subsequently remaining on the island.
Although there appears to be no accounts at least in
the local press of how the battalion spent Christmas on the island, unfortunately on Christmas Day itself, Private Reginald
Alfred Stedman, 4043, a native of Reading, died. Enlisting in 1894, Reginald had been previously employed as a Clerk and died
of unknown causes aged 40 years. Buried two days later in Pieta Military Cemetery
|Floriana Barracks. Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community.
As the First Balkan War continued witnessing
numerous victories by the combined armies of the Balkan League over the Ottoman Empire, at Malta