War hero remembered in new nationwide display – after we published his memoirs

Walter Young, whose picture is being held, will feature in a touring display by the Post Office
Walter Young, whose picture is being held, will feature in a touring display by the Post Office

The war hero whose memoirs have been serialised on this website in recent months will now form part of a nationwide touring display by the Post Office.

Walter Young fought and was shot during the First World War and won the Military Medal for his work as a stretcher bearer.

He served with the Post Office Rifles (47th Division, 8th London Regiment) from March 1915 until he was captured by the Germans exactly three years later.

He was shot through the hand and the helmet – the bullet missed his head – before they forced him to work in a Prussian coal mine.

When the war ended, he resumed his job at the General Post Office (GPO).

Before the war broke out in 1914, he trained with the Territorial Army at Abbots Langley. He became so fond of the area that he later bought some land at Scatterdells Lane in nearby Chipperfield.

The touring displays, which will travel between Post Office branches throughout the UK, will honour people in the Post Office Rifles who served with distinction.

Chief executive of the Post Office Paula Vennells said: “This exhibition is a mark of our respect for those whose courage and sacrifice in the First World War changed the course of history.

“On the centenary of the First World War, we particularly wanted to remember the Post Office Rifles, who earned high praise and a prestigious place in British military history. About 1,800 of its soldiers were killed – and 4,500 injured – during the war.

“We’re proud to honour the fallen and their families this centenary. From the heroes of the Post Office Rifles to those who serve near and far today, their courage and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

A total of 75,000 GPO workers fought in the First World War.

Walter’s granddaughter Hilary Pillin said: “This display is about remembering individuals – like my grandfather, and millions of others – and the extraordinary sacrifices they made.

“It particularly helps the next generation understand the significance of what happened during the First World War.

“The fact that my grandfather survived, despite being shot and captured, when so many of his fellow Post Office Rifles, and men serving alongside him, became casualties, still seems little short of a miracle.

“His humility and resilience throughout those dreadful experiences has always been an inspiration to me even though, sadly, I never got to meet him.”

Walter, who died in aged 68 in 1957, got married in 1922 and had two sons. His son John, who is now 84, lives in Hemp Lane, Wigginton.