A County Durham soldier awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the First World War will today be honoured with a memorial stone.

Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll was born in the village of Thornley in 1897. Lieutenant Youll – known to his friends as Jack – started work as an electrician at the age of 15, but later joined the army.

In 1918, when serving in the 11th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, Jack led his men against heavy enemy fire in Asiago, Italy. Though he later sent his patrol back to safety, Jack stayed in the range of danger to observe the situation and even launched a series of counter attacks.

John Youll paving stone
Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll’s commemorative stone 

For his bravery, Jack received the Victoria Cross from King George V in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. When Jack returned to Thornley, he was given a hero’s welcome at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Unfortunately, after returning to the war, Jack was killed in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in Italy on 27th October 1918.

East Durham Area Action Partnership has now organised a memorial in Jack’s honour. Today (Friday 15th June) a memorial stone will be unveiled in Thornley.

The unveiling of this stone is part of a wider project to honour all the County Durham soldiers who were awarded a Victoria Cross in the First World War.

East Durham AAP coordinator, John Murphy, said, “Jack’s brave actions should never be forgotten and this memorial will ensure his name and incredible actions will live on for future generations.”

“It has been fascinating to learn more about Jack’s life and it is only right that we celebrate his achievements, which also saw him awarded the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour.”

The memorial ceremony and the unveiling of the commemorative stone will take place at 11.00 am on Friday 15th June outside Thornley Village Centre.


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