|Date of Birth||November 7, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Ava, Kinkaid Township, Jackson County, Illinois|
|Next of Kin||Mr. John Youngman (father), Avard, Oklahoma, U.S.A.|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||January 8, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||April 24, 1964|
|Age at Death||66|
|Buried At||Greenlawn Memorial Park, Colma, California|
|Plot||Canadian Legion plot, Palm 4, Div. 3, Grave 59|
Private Ralph Youngman enlisted in January 1917 and served with the 52nd Battalion in France and Belgium. He was wounded at the Battle of Amiens and he suffered from trench fever and influenza, but he survived the war and returned to Canada in May 1919.
Ralph was born on 7 November 1897 in Ava, Kinkaid Township, Jackson County, Illinois. His parents were John Youngman and Minerva (Minnie) Baker. John and Minnie were both born in Illinois and they were married around 1894. They had at least four children: Grace, Clarence, Ralph and Ethel. When the 1900 census was taken the family was living in Kinkaid Township where John was farming. By the time of the 1910 census he was widowed and they had moved to Kiowa County in Kansas, where he found work as a house carpenter.
Ralph immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1916, arriving at Emerson, Manitoba by train on 25 August. He was coming from Avard, Oklahoma and going to Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was 18 years old with his occupation listed as farmer. By the time he enlisted a few months later he was living in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. He signed up in Kenora on 8 January 1917, joining the 141st ‘Bull Moose’ Battalion and listing his father in Avard, Oklahoma as next of kin. His service record notes that he had previously attested with the same unit on 25 September 1916, a month after he arrived in Canada. The 141st Battalion was already training in Port Arthur and Ralph joined them there shortly after enlisting. The troops left Port Arthur on 20 April, heading to the east coast. They embarked from Halifax on 28 April on the SS Olympic and landed at Liverpool on 7 May.
In England Ralph was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion. After training with them for four months he was drafted to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion and sent to France. The 52nd was a front line unit that had been recruited in northwestern Ontario, including the town of Kenora, and Ralph joined them in the field at the end of September. Three weeks later the Canadians moved north to the Ypres salient for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). On the night of 25 October Ralph’s unit took up its position in preparation for the opening assault the next morning, which began at 5:40 am. An early morning mist turned into an all-day rain and at times the men waded knee-deep in mud and water as they advanced. The 52nd Battalion was relieved the next day and moved into support positions. Ralph became ill with trench fever and he was evacuated to No. 46 Casualty Clearing Station on 29 October. He was out of action until mid-December, recovering at No. 7 Canadian General Hospital then at convalescent centres in Etaples and Trouville. He rejoined his unit in January 1918 and in March he had two weeks leave in the UK.
In the summer of 1918 the Canadians underwent eight weeks of intensive training in open warfare and in early August they moved to the Amiens area. The Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918) would be the first operation in the Hundred Days Offensive, the final period of the war. Ralph’s unit took part in the opening day of the assault.
From the War Diary of the 52nd Battalion, 8 August 1918, Hourges: ‘Very foggy in the early morning . . . Zero hour was at 4:20 A.M. and very soon after, the Battalion commenced to move forward through a very heavy enemy barrage.‘
Ralph was one of the casualties that day, suffering a gunshot or shell wound to his left hand. He was evacuated to England and admitted to The Grove Military Hospital in London. He spent ten days there followed by a month at the convalescent depot in Bexhill. At the end of September he was assigned to the 18th Reserve Battalion but just ten days later he was sent back to France to rejoin the 52nd. The fighting was in a very mobile phase and it was December before he was back with his unit. The Armistice had ended hostilities by then and the 52nd Battalion was in Belgium, where they stayed for several more weeks. The troops left there by train on 5 February 1919, embarking from Le Havre, France on 10 February and landing in England the next day. Ralph contracted influenza ten days later and he spent a month recovering at No. 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott. During that time the 52nd Battalion returned to Canada. Ralph was kept in the UK a few more weeks, embarking from Liverpool on the SS Orduna on 7 May and arriving in Halifax eight days later. He proceeded to Calgary where he was discharged on 27 May.
After the war Ralph lived in Coutts, Alberta for awhile before moving back the U.S., where he sometimes went by the name John Ralph Young. In 1930 he was living with his brother Clarence in West Butte, Montana and working as a ranch hand. By the late 1950s he had moved to California and settled in Wilmington, a suburb of Los Angeles. Ralph passed away in San Francisco on 24 April 1964, at age 66. He is buried in the Canadian Legion plot at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.
By Becky Johnson