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Youdale, Alfred Clarence (1889–1917)

News has been received of the death in action of Captain and Flight-Commander A. C. [Alfred Clarence] Youdale, third son of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Youdale, of Ormonde-street Ashfield. The news of the death of their son was conveyed to Mr. and Mrs. Youdale by cable from the War Office. Captain Youdale was killed in action on December 23. The Army Council expressed their sympathy with the relations.

Flight-Commander Youdale, who was only 28 years of age, was, before the war, a commercial traveller for Messrs. Barlow, Jones, and Co., of York-street and was one of the most popular men on the roads. He enlisted on January 6, 1915, and left Australia on May 20, 1915, with the reinforcements for the 7th Light Horse. He saw active service on Gallipoli for five months as a bomb-sergeant. Then he was stricken down with enteric fever, and was taken away about a week before the evacuation. His lieutenancy was sent to Gallipoli for him, but through being sent to Egypt ill the commission was given to another. He was returned to Australia in February, 1916, and re-embarked for Egypt on July 8, 1916. In Egypt he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, and when he had finished his training he went to England, and subsequently to France, where he took part in many flights and air fights. He was promoted in France from lieutenant to captain and flght-commander, and received the Military Cross and later a bar to it for great bravery and distinguished service.

On August 20 last, Mr. W. Beach Thomas, the correspondent of the London Daily Mail in France, writing of the fighting north-east of Ypres, in the neighbourhood of Poelcapelle road, said: — "One young pilot flew right among our barrage and emptied his drums when we were attacking the strong fortress of Au Bon Cite between Langemarck and the Yser Canal." This pilot was none other than Flight-Commander Youdale, who knew not fear. Again, on October 6, Mr. Beach Thomas, writing of the fighting on Zonnebeke Ridge, along the Broodseinde-road (where the Australians were engaged in hard fighting), said:— "The hero of the day in the central fighting was an Australian airman. In spite of rain and half a gale of wind, he flew over the German lines for hours, and necessarily flew low. The enemy were both terrified and angered. They fired every explosive engine they possessed — rockets, rifles, machine guns, anti-aircraft and even field guns and heavies. Our man's plane was riddled, some of the controls were shot away, and bits of metal lodged in the body of the machine. It was tossed about by the force of the explosions, and at last, bent and battered by the strumpet wind,' his engine half out of action, he slid down behind our lines, crashing just at the end. He and his observer were unhurt. They shared some bruises, and he had a broken nose, but this morning he asked leave to go out again."

This was Flight-Commander Youdale. A photograph of the machine, showing how it was holed and damaged by the enemy, with the daring airman alongside of it, appeared in the Sydney Mail on November 7 last. Many other British newspapers contain glowing accounts of this young airman's daring.

In a letter sent by General Sir A. A. Godley from 2nd Anzac Corps Headquarters, under date October 18, to another general, he said: "I should be glad if you would convey to the 21st Squadron my thanks and appreciation of the good work they did for us during our three battles. The reports given me by Youdale were especially valuable and accurate."

The late Flight-Commander Youdale has three brothers fighting in France, and one of them, Warrant-officer R. H. Youdale, belongs to the Flying Corps. The other two are Sergeant E. M. Youdale, field cashier to the 1st Australian Division, and Lance-corporal S. R. Youdale, of the Army Service Corps.

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'Youdale, Alfred Clarence (1889–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/youdale-alfred-clarence-18860/text30497, accessed 21 November 2017.

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