JOHN EDWARD ROYSTON YOUNG
John joined the Artists’ Rifles ranks in June 1916 and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Flying Corps in February 1917.
Place and date of birth
Stationed at Rochford Aerodrome
Connection to Southend
John Edward Royston Young was the 4th of 7 children born to Mr William Young and Mrs Edith Young. John was born in Streatham and attended Streatham Grammar School before joining the British Bank of Northern Commerce as a Clerk.
John joined the Artists’ Rifles ranks in June 1916 and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Flying Corps in February 1917. On gaining his wings, John was posted to 37 Home Defence Squadron and was guarding the northern approaches of the Thames Estuary. He was based at Rochford Aerodrome which is now the site of London Southend Airport.
At this point in the Great War, the invention of incendiary machine gun rounds had solved the problem of German Zeppelins bombing British towns and cities. Instead the Imperial German Flying Corps started to use the more advanced and much faster Gotha bombers.
On the 7th July 1917 a flight of 22 Gotha bombers attacked the East End of London in 2 waves causing 57 deaths. This was the first day time attack by the Gothas and the battle is described in several books. Ninety-five British aircraft were apparently sent up to tackle the Gothas. The aircraft (including James McCudden the great air ace) and the anti-aircraft guns together had little impact, only managing to bring down one of the enemy machines before they escaped over the Channel.
Among those British airmen were JER Young and CC Taylor, who together chased the Gothas out to sea but were brought down either by the combined fire of the Gothas’ gunners or by British anti-aircraft gunfire, depending whose reports you believe. A rescue ship reached the downed aircraft before it sank and they managed to rescue John's navigator and gunner, Cyril Taylor, but he died of his injuries later in hospital in Southend. By the time the rescue boat arrived JER Young had died of his wounds and the rescuers were unable to recover John's body before the Strutter 1 and 1/2 went down into the sea.
John's mother had died some years before and John's Father, William Young asked that a Commonwealth War Grave memorial be erected at the North Road Burial Ground in Westcliff to honour and remember his son.