“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

John McKenzie Young 1894 - 1931 Part Two.

"Mac" [John McKenzie] Young.  1930.

In Part One I presented the story of John McKenzie Young as published by Roy Chapman Andrews.  There is no doubt that Young's death deeply affected Andrews, and members of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, Marine Corps, and one suspects, many of the female members of the Peking Foreign Legation social circle.

For longer versions of Young's life and assorted adventures see Andrews:  J. McKenzie Young - Explorer, in: This Business of Exploring, 1932.  Chapter 7, pp. 102 - 118; and Bravest Man I Ever Knew, In: American Magazine June 1955.  I also have a lengthy manuscript by Andrews which is titled "He Danced With Death A Dozen Times"  It has Andrews' handwritten notation that it was sent to Argosy sometime in the 1950's but I can not read the date clearly.  If anybody knows I would be grateful to hear from you.

I have contacted all of the agencies that Young was said to have been a member of.  
I have a copy of his Canadian Military Service Record, his Service Record in the United States Marine Corps., and what little information remains available from the incredibly short-sighted archives and records of the North-West Mounted Police, now known as The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


S. S. JUSTICIA Dazzle paint, headed for U Boat infested crossings of North Atlantic.  1917

Young volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Siege Artillery Draft, at McGill University, on May 21, 1917.  He states that at that time he was a member of the McGill Canadian Officers Training Corps.  He gave his place of Birth as Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  His parents at that time were listed as living in Pittsburgh, PA.

Along with approximately 3, 999 other troops, Mac climbed onboard S. S. Justicia at Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada on June 25, 1917, and disembarked at Liverpool, England on July 17, 1917.
Initially placed in reserve Artillery stationed at Shorncliffe, Kent; in less than a few weeks Young was absorbed into the 13th Siege Battery, which itself was later absorbed into the second 10th Canadian Siege Battery.

His AFB records that about August 21, 1917 a Field Warrant was issued against him, but why is not specified.  CANCELLED was written through it, and Young is still Bombadier Private 2nd class the next day.  It appears that Young did spend a lot of time at various Camps in England, as his record shows arriving in France for the first time on March 15, 1918.

9.2 inch howitzers of a Siege Battery in action on the Western Front.

In a letter to The Major General Commandant, United States Marine Corps., Washington, D.C. dated May 17th, 1926, Young states that he was Twenty-two months overseas, and took part in major engagements at Paaschaendale, Vimy Ridge, Arras, Amiens, Cambrai, and several minor ones.

Major engagements occurred at:
- Paaschaendale:  July and November, 1917
- Vimy Ridge: April 9 to 12, 1917
- Arras: April 9th to May 16 1917
- Cambrai: 20 November to December 7 1917
- Amiens: August 8th 1918

While Young's official military record is difficult to translate; there is a lot of acronyms. it is clear to me that Young was not wounded, and would not have been in any of the 'big' engagements, with the possible exception of Amiens.

Young was field promoted to sergeant  on August 5th, 1918 on the advice of a Sgt. Marshall, but reduced to ranks on August 29th, 1918; no explanation why.

Young did in fact apply to join the Royal Air Force on October 27th, 1918, and did make it back to England, and was about to start training when the War ended.  His record does not show that he ever received any instruction on flying, or was ever in an aeroplane during war time.

Mac Young was demobilized at Toronto in May 1919.  He was given an honourable discharge, ranked as a Sergeant, and awarded the British War Medal, and The Victory Medal.

I conclude that the World War One portion of Mac's story is mostly correct, save for any true involvement in the 'big' battles, and probably never did learn to fly.  It would appear that as told, Mac spent a great deal of time at training depots itching to see the war.

If somebody reading this has expertise in reading military personnel records from World War One, I would be more than happy to put Mac's Records at their disposal for analysis.