SSFR - Southend Great War Trail


John Edward Royston Young

Service or Civilian:

Royal Flying Corps

Rank or Occupation:

2nd Leiutenant

Birth Details:

Streatham, London , 1898


Rochford Aerodrome, Essex

Known Relatives:

William Simpson Young, Father
Edith Maude Young, Mother

Gertrude, Betty and Marjorie, Sisters
Harrold, Charles, Frank, Brothers
Mr J S Young, Grandfather
Lt Col R R Young, Uncle


Death Details:

17th July 1917, off the Essex coast.

Burial Location:

John's body was lost at sea but he has a Commonwealth War Grave in the North Road Burial Ground, Westcliff.

Southend Connection:

Stationed at Rochford Aerodrome, memorial at North Road.

Story Summary:

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.

Additional Details:



John Young Photograph
Cyril Taylor photogrpah
Sopwith Strutter 1 1/2
Pilots at Rochford Aerodrome
German Gotha Bomber
Image of the Gotha attack on London
JER  Young RFC record
Bomb damage at st-pancras 1917
JER Young
Artist's Rifles training1917