William James Young

Able Seaman William James Young of Belfast died in the Mediterranean on 22nd May 1941 when the Luftwaffe bombed HMS Gloucester during the Battle of Crete.

Able Seaman

William James Young

D/SSX 24859

Able Seaman William James Young died as a result of the sinking of HMS Gloucester when the Cruiser came under attack from the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean.

Able Seaman William James Young (D/SSX 24859) served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was the son of William Young and Henrietta Young of Belfast.

He died on 22nd May 1941 aged 23 on HMS Gloucester. The British Cruiser was part of the Mediterranean Fleet when it went down after an attack from Luftwaffe JU-87s. The German bombers were part of Operation Merkur, an airborne assault on Crete.

HMS Gloucester in Plymouth, 1939

Imperial War Museum Photo: (FL 3923) (Part of the Ministry of Defence Foxhill Collection of Ship Photographs). Royal Navy Cruiser HMS Gloucester in Plymouth Sound, Devon in 1939. Copyright Royal Navy Official Photographer.

HMS Greyhound was stricken from an earlier Luftwaffe attack when HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji went to its aid. Exhausted, the crew of Gloucester set off to aid Greyhound despite their anti-aircraft ammunition being low. Bombers attacked both vessels until Gloucester ran out of ammunition and took several direct hits.

HMS Gloucester listed to port and lay burning in the water. It went under after 1715hrs with the loss of Commander Captin Rowley, 45 Officers, and 648 crew. Some survivors of the sinking clung to rafts and wreckage for 24 hours before German boats picked them up. These vessels were searching for their own men, victims of an earlier Royal Navy attack. There were several Allied Destroyers in the area but none came to Gloucester’s aid.

William James Young has no known grave. His name is on Panel 49, Column 1 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Plymouth, Devon.