The Julian Johnson Collection

Date of Auction: 10th May 2017

Sold for £550

Estimate: £360 - £400

A scarce Great War and North West Persia campaign group of four awarded to Gunner R. C. Young, “E” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery - No. 4 Gun from “E” Battery fired the first shot of the British Expeditionary Force during the Great War

1914 Star, with later slide clasp (52856 Gnr: R. C. Young. R.H.A.); British War and Victory Medals (52856 Gnr. R. C. Young. R.A.); General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, N. W. Persia (1044096 Gnr. R. C. Young. R.A.); Army L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 1st issue (1044096 Gnr. R. C. Young. R.A.), mounted for wear, generally nearly very fine (5) £360-400

Footnote

Reginald Clifford Young was born in 1890, and attested for the Royal Artillery at Woolwich, in October 1908. He served during the Great War with “E” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery on the Western Front from 15 August 1914. On 22 August No. 4 Gun of “E” Battery fired the first shot of the British Expeditionary Force during the Great War. The following detail is provided from S. W. Crowsley’s personal log and war diary, for “E” Battery 8 August 1914 - 8 September 1914:

‘Saturday 22.08.14 Bray, Belgium
Marched with 3rd Cavalry Brigade to Bray, 4 miles N.E. of Harmignies. Battery came into action just clear of the village, fired at German guns and Infantry, 1st round fired by the Expeditionary Force by No. 4 Gun of “E” Battery R.H.A. at 11.15am.... We had not been long in action before a German aeroplane came hovering over our position, dropped a time fuse, giving the range to our guns, and returned to its own lines. Then came our first experience of being under shell fire as their first round fell in the ground about 15 yards from me. Villages burning along the whole front, which the Germans had fired while advancing, nothing but flames and smoke. Heart rending scenes were witnessed on going into action, women and children, some men and women grey with age, rushing from their homes never to see them again, taking with them all they could carry, food etc. and a little clothing, it was doubtful if they would ever reach safety, as the Germans were advancing so quickly. Splendid homes, well furnished, to be looted and burnt by the advancing Germans as they left nothing standing....’


Young later recounts a similar theme in an extract from a letter home to his mother published in a newspaper under the sub-heading of “Those Devils”:

‘Just a few lines to let you know that all is well with me. We are doing nicely. We have been holding for over a week the place where we are now. They have had many tries to push us back, but it cannot be done. Our little guns simply wipe them out as they try to advance on our trenches. The Germans have turned their fire back on the villages around us. Last night we went into one of them and found a nun dead and another with her legs blown off by shell fire. That’s the thing that upsets my nerve - when I come across the poor women and children flying for their lives leaving their homes to be plundered by those devils. If I get back safe and I meet a German and he looks at me I’ll tip him one on the nose.’

Young served with “A” Battery (the only Gunner battery to be entitled to the clasp) Royal Horse Artillery in North West Persia in 1920. He was awarded the L.S. & G.C. in 1927, and was discharged 19 October 1929.


Sold with the following related documents: Regular Army Certificate of Service; two newspaper cuttings, in which are published extracts of letters home from the recipient during Great War service; a photograph of No. 4 Gun, “E” Battery, R.H.A. which fired the first shot of the B.E.F. in France, 22 August 1914; a photograph of “E” Battery in the field, and copied research.