First World War hero from Thornley honoured

A First World War hero has been honoured in his home village.

Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll, known as Jack, was born in Thornley on June 6 1897 and from the age of 15 worked as an electrician until he joined the army.

In 1918, when attached to the 11th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, he fearlessly led his men against heavy enemy fire in Asiago, Italy. After sending his patrol back to safety, he stayed to observe the situation and carried out a number of counter attacks against the enemy.

He was later awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace and received a hero’s welcome at the Hippodrome Theatre on his return home to Thornley.

After returning to his unit, Youll was tragically killed in action at the battle of Vittorio Veneto, Italy, on 27 October 1918.

A memorial in his honour, organised by the East Durham Area Action Partnership, took place today. A commemorative paving stone was also unveiled as part of efforts to see all of County Durham’s First World War Victoria Cross heroes commemorated.

John Murphy, East Durham AAP co-ordinator, 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.”