Cawongla and its School
Cawongla and its School

History: The Young brothers of Ballina

WHEN looking at the records of many First World War soldiers a certain pattern emerges.

Those who enlisted early usually went to Gallipoli and a large proportion of these died there, some of illness. Those who enlisted in 1916 and 1917 often were luckier and survived to return home even though many received wounds, were gassed, or became ill.

Perhaps they were better trained. Later recruits (late 1917-early 1918) seem to have been rushed to the Front with little training. Many died in some of the worst battles of the War.

Families often sent more than one son to the First World War, including families from our area. Some, indeed, saw sons later enlist in the Second World War.

The three soldier-sons of Alfred and Marie Young of Ballina give an interesting insight into the different soldiering exploits within the same family.

William John (John or Jack) Young was the eldest of the three and enlisted in July 1915 aged 22. He was a labourer and joined the 49th Infantry Battalion.

He fought in Egypt and later in France. He collected a dose of mumps in Egypt on arrival and later received a dose of something less savoury in France.

He was AWOL on several occasions and in 1918 was Court Marshalled though it is not clear why this happened. He was sentenced to 12 months detention but this was later suspended and he returned home.

He was honourably discharged so whatever the matter was it must have been quashed. It is believed he possibly died in 1926, though one record has 1944.

The next brother to enlist was Lawrence Raymond Young in June 1916 aged 18.

He was a spoke mill hand. When he enlisted his age had been questioned but his mother wrote a letter saying that she gave permission as he "wants to go with his mates".

He trained in Dubbo, Bathurst, and at Sydney, was sent to N.C.O. school and was made a Corporal in the 30th Infantry Battalion. In 1917 he was transferred to the 33rd Battalion and attended the School of Musketry in England where he received a first class pass for knowledge of the Lewis Gun.

He fought in France but does not appear to have been wounded. He returned to Australia in 1919 and apparently died in 1974.

The interesting brother is Henry Leslie (Harry) Young who enlisted in 1916 giving his age as 18.

He was actually only 16. [Did his mother also write a letter about him too?] He joined the 2nd Light Horse Regiment and on arrival in Egypt was sent to the Isolation Camp possibly with mumps or measles, both raging in army camps in those days.

He was to spend several other bouts in hospital, with pleurisy and malaria. In the meantime he had transferred to the 5th Light Horse.

He returned home ill at the end of 1918. However, he must have felt that he had been deprived of war experience as in 1923 he enlisted on a 12 year contract with the Royal Australian Navy. He went up the ranks there and was discharged in 1935. He became a wharf labourer.

However, with the outbreak of World War II he enlisted again with the RAN though by this time he was aged 42.

He became a Constable at the important Garden Island establishment H.M.A.S. Penguin and remained there even after the War had ended! Perhaps the sea air reminded him of dear old Ballina!

Another interesting fact concerning this family: a sister, Alma Isobell Young married Lt. W.H.G. (Harold) Fredericks, a much decorated soldier of the 5th Light Horse.

Their son was Harold Richmond Fredericks a police detective inspector, and Mayor of Lismore!

Prepared by Geoff & Margaret Henderson for Richmond River Historical Society, Lismore. Telephone: 02 6621 9993. Email: Hours: Museum - Monday-Friday 10am-4pm; Research Room - Monday & Wednesday 10am-4pm.