At a handover ceremony that took place this morning the Australian War Memorial received a set of military medals which had been lost for 40 years.
The medals, a Military Cross and two additional Bars, were awarded to Captain Alfred Clarence Youdale for a series of courageous actions in late 1917.
Assistant Director and Branch Head of National Collection Major General Brian Dawson (Ret’d) said Captain Youdale’s record of being awarded the Military Cross three times in six months is unique, and he was one of only nine airmen to receive the Military Cross and two Bars.
“After serving throughout the Gallipoli campaign, Captain Youdale joined the British Royal Flying Corps and quickly proved himself a daring and skilful airman,” Major General Dawson said.
“He was awarded the Military Cross in September 1917 before receiving two Bars in the following months, each for particular bravery in exceptionally hazardous conditions on the Ypres front.”
Captain Youdale was killed in action on the afternoon of 23 December 1917 when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. His body was not recovered, and today he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in France.
The Youdale medals were lost while being transferred to Australia in 1969, and only re-appeared in 2009 when they were discovered at a small branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) in Russell in the Bay of Islands.
After discussions with New Zealand authorities, an agreement was reached to permanently transfer the medals to Australia, and the Australian War Memorial.
“The Memorial would like to thank a number of people involved in bringing these medals to Australia, not least the Youdale family and the Russell RSA,” said Major General Dawson.
“Their willing cooperation has helped to ensure Captain Youdale’s medals are back where they belong, in a place where they will form an important part of the continuing story of the Australian experience of war.”
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