Robert Cubert YOUNG (1893-1944)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF


War Medal to LT R C YOUNG AIF


Lieutenant: 1729 Robert Cubert YOUNG.

Born: 1893. Narrandra, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:24938/1893.

Married: 1912. Deniliquin, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert:1572/1912.

Wife: Jessie G Young. nee: Daish.

Died: 22nd December 1944. North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:4306/1945.

Father: George Douglas Young. (1861-1941)

Mother: Annie Young. nee: Ferrier.


Robert Cubert Young enlisted with the AIF on the 10th October 1915. He was recruited for the 19th Battalion Reinforcements at Holsworthy but was transfered to the 1st Reinforcement 35th Battalion AIF on the 24th of March 1916 and embarked from Sydney onboard HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 1st May 1916 for England where he disembarked at Plymouth on the 9th July where he was sent to 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill. Here he was promoted to Sergeant on the 25th October befor proceeding overseas the the Battalion on the 21st of November 1916.


7th June 1917

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General A JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

1st-7th July 1917. MESSINES.

35th Battalion occupied Support Trenches just S West of MESSINES (The Brigade being in Support) The Battalion HQ was established in our old front line. Enemy was fairly quiet except for Counter Battery work which was very constant. During this time men were constantly employed digging and improving communication trenches towards the new front line. On 1/7/17, 2 Lieut: Mortimer Eustance LYNE was wounded by a shell entering his dugout. Captain: Frank Harold JARRETT was wounded on the 5/7/17 by a piece of shell entering his dugout. He died of wounds received at 2pm in the Main Dressing Station on the same date.

7th July 1917.

33rd Battalion AIF relieved by the 35th Bn AIF in Support Trenches MESSINES SECTOR 35th Bn went to Billets at NEUVE EGLISE. Casulties during the tour of duty in MESSINES SUPPORTS 28 including 4 killed.

7th-11th July 1917. NEUVE EGLISE.

Rested and Trained whilst in Billets and also supplied small working parties.

11th July 1917. MESSINES.

Relieved 43rd Bn AIF in Case of Supports Messines Sector. (RIVER DOUVE to STIGNASTFARM) Brigade Relief. Supplied working parties while in Supports. We were at times subjected to fairly severe enemy shell fire while in Close Supports Casulties from 11-7-17 to 17/18-7-17 were 34 including 6 killed.

17th July 1917.

Relieved 35th Bn AIF in front line Messines Sector. 19th Lieutenant: Wynter Wallace WARDEN wounded whilst supervising transport of rations over Messines Ridge.

20th July 1917.

Robert was treated by the Australian Field Ambulance and evacuated to Rouen where he was treated at the 8th General Hospital after he was Wounded in Action at Messines where be received Gas Poisoning from enemy shell fire when the enemy used gas across the main front. He was evacuated to England onboard the Hospital Ship "St George" where he spent several months before returning to France on the 3rd of February 1918.

30th March 1918

2:00am, Arrived at Cachy and billetted in Aerodrome. 9:00am, assembled for counter-attack and remained in formation till 5:00pm then returned to billetts. 10:00pm, received instruction to move into the line.

(35th Battalion Diary)

4th April 1918.

North of the railway cutting Sayers company of the 35th Battalion advanced with equal success. The Germans immediatly ahead of it numbered not more than 100. As the company approached some of them ran. Lieutenant: Thomas Edward THOMPSON was wounded by a German at fifteen yards range.

(BEAN; History of World War 1 Vol V page 345)


4th-5th April 1918

The Strength of the 9th Infantry Brigade was about 2,250 but their casulties during the 2 days of fighting numbered 30 Officers and 635 men either killed in action or missing.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.4th-5th April 1918
33rd Battalion. AIF 3 Officers 82 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 120 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 282 Other ranks (including 44 missing)
36th Battalion. AIF 12 Officers 133 Other ranks (including 1 missing)
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 1 Officer 18 Other ranks (including 4 missing)

16th April 1918.

’On the 16th April, the rumours of a new German Offensive against Amiens seemed to be definitely confirmed. A German prisoner, taken by the French, volunteered the that Villers Bretonneux was to be attacked the next day. The 5th Australian Division, which had come line on the night of the 6th/7th April, and held the sector from Villers Bretonneux (inclusive) to the Somme canal was warned to be ready to retake the town, if captured by attack from the north ; and other preparations and counter-preparations were made. About 4 A.M. on the 17th, Villers Bretonneux, Bois d'Aquenne, to the west of it and the village of Cachy, to the south, were heavily drenched for three hours with phosgene, mustard and irritant gasses. But no assault followed. As soon as possible the local garrison, consisting of the 6/London(58 Dvn) and the 33rd Australian Battalion, was got out of the shelters in the town into the trenches around it. The gas shelling was repeated in the evening from 4 to 7 P.M., next morning and on the following days, being increased so as to include Bois I'Abbe, but with greatly reduced results. Nevertheless it was impossible for anyone to move that area without feeling some ill-effects from the mustard gas, and there were, in all, 1,074 gas casualties.’

’The gassing of Villers Bretonneux seemed to point to the probability of its not being attacked, but by this time air photographs had revealed the signs of imminent operations; an increase in the number of enemy batteries had also been noticed, while the roads were being registered by German artillery. There were, however, also indications that the Albert sector might be the objective of an attack which might extend to Arras and Vimy Ridge.

24th April 1918.

3:30am Heavy Bombardment heard on front. 10:30am Instructions received to be ready to move immediatly. 12:00 noon Instructions are now to move on 1 hours notice. Enemy attacked at Villers-Bretonneux at 6:30am and at 1:00pm. Was in position of the town and the ground to the South as far as HANGARD. By midnight the 13th and 15th Brigades and re taked the lost ground and captured 1200 Prisoners, 100 Machine Guns and 2 Field Guns.

(35th Battalion War Diary)

25th of April 1918.

"Dull in the morning, but fine in the Afternoon. Owing to most of the fit men being on guard or other duties, no parade was held. A number of men are still sick with gas. Enemy seems to be very quiet on this front. Further South at Villers-Bretonneux the 15th Brigade, A.I.F who counter-attacked last night repulsed a strong enemy counter-attack. The counter-attack was very successful, the captures being roughly 1000 prisoners, 100 machine-guns, a field gun and 2 tanks. This is the first time we have heard of the enemy using tanks."

(35th Battalion War Diary)


30-31st August 1918

On the northern flank the 3rd Division's attack had been arranged at short notice after a day exhausting to both infantry and artillery, and in the face of other particular difficulties. The timming of the attack was to be taken from the left where the 58th Division, somewhat further back than the 9th Brigade, started at 5:10am behind a very slow barrage to attack Marrieres Wood. The 9th Brigade using the 33rd Battalion, started at the time arranged, 5:40am, but the artillery had not yet received its orders and though it fired, the barrage was thin and machine-guns in the south-west corner of Road Wood stopped the 33rd.

One Company was late, but Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. had swung his Company into its place. Major: Cedric Errol Meter BRODZIAK. D.S.O. was now killed while referring to his map.But within twenty minutes the artillery greatly increased its fire. The 33rd were able to raise their heads. A private Private: 726 George CARTWRIGHT. V.C. stood up and from the shoulder fired at the troublesome German gunner and then walking forward shot him and the two men who took his place.

Next, covering his run by exploding a bomb shot of the trench, he rushed the gun and captured 9 Germans. The 33rd stood up and cheered him, and then advancing by two's and three's entered the wood. Private: 792 William Allan IRWIN. D.C.M an Australian half-caste, after attacking like Cartwright, was mortally wounded and died of wounds on the 1st of September 1918.

The 33rd was now considerably behind the 6th London (58th Division), having chased the Germans from Marrieres Wood, was held up by fire from Wary Alley which curved up the gully between the woods. Comming through the south Company Sergeant Major: 967 Louis John MATHIAS. D.C.M & Bar. cleared the Germans by fire from a Lewis Gun.

The 33rd now set to bombing up the old trenches leading up to the upper end of the 1916 Spur where the Peronne-Bapaume Road also ran through. On the nearer side of the road a German battery commander with his gun crews and some infantry was blazing with six field-guns into the Australian groups everywere they left shelter.

From the southward side Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL. and Lieutenant: William Alexander McLEAN. M.C. of the 33rd-the latter greartly helped by the leaders of the 10th Brigade Sergeant 1007 E E Walters. D.C.M, 39th Battalion and Corporal 5024 A V Grinton. D.C.M, 38th Battalion, worked up and presently rushed the guns, the German Battery Commander fighting to the last with his revolver. He was shot by Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL.

Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. reaching realised that the old quarry beyond it was a commanding position and accordingly took it and 40 German prisoners and placed a post on its eastern rim. He then went back to Wary Alley, and finding some of the 6th London Regiment, got Captain: S T COOKE M.C, and 20 men to garrison the quarry while the 33rd lined the Bapaume Road on the right.

Robert was sent to France where he was returned to England on the 22nd April 1919 and was granted leave to attend the British School of Motoring at Coventry Street Piccadilly, London from the 6th June until the 6th September. He embarked from England onboard the "Nestor" on the 11th November 1919 and was terminated from the AIF on the 22nd March 1920.

Roberts British War Medal:40648 to LIEUT R C YOUNG AIF was acquired for a dealer in Sydney in February 2013 and is now in the Harrower collection.

Family Information

Robert was working as a Clerk/Plantation Overseer in Papua New Guinea upon enlistment. His parents George and Annie Young were married in 1895 at Narrandra, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:6146/1895.

George Douglas Young was born 1861 at Maitland, N.S.W. Birth Cert:9203/1861 and died 1941 at Newtown via Sydney, N.S.W. Death Cert:3569/1941.

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Under Construction; 14/02/2013-07/12/2014.

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