Youdale, Alfred Clarence (Captain, b.1888 - d.1917)
Collection relating to the First World War service of 971 Captain Alfred Clarence Youdale, 7th Light Horse Regiment and Royal Flying Corps, Australia, Egypt, Gallipoli, France, United Kingdom, and Belgium, 1915-1937.
Collection consists of one c.1940 black faux-leather covered binder containing typed transcripts Captain Youdale's letters home to his family. Also contained within the binder are newspaper clippings and other letters relating to Youdale's service. The collection can broadly be divided into two sections, both of importance: the first describing training in Australia and subsequently putting this into action at Gallipoli over a significant period, and second training for, and application of, early air-warfare.
The binder contains typed transcripts of a series of letters, some of which are addressed 'To All My Friends', and others where the addressee's name has been omitted by the transcriber. The letters are unusual, in that are written in the form of a diary offering accounts of the activities that Youdale has experienced. Sometimes this can cover a period of days, or, in the case of his evacuation from Gallipoli, several months.
The diary-style letters begin with a description of Youdale's resignation from his work in Sydney, and enlistment the following morning. The letters then go on to describe training in Australia including detailed accounts of the horse husbandry required of the Light Horse. Next is a detailed account of the journey to Egypt aboard the A58 SS Kabinga, including the treatment of the horses aboard and their many deaths owing to the poor conditions on the transport ship. Also discussed during the voyage to Egypt are detailed accounts of the Indian workers on the ship and the entertainment of the troops in Aden that the local hawkers provided.
Following disembarkation in Egypt, accounts of Cairo, then the voyage to Gallipoli are recorded. Next is an in-depth report of Youdale's four month service on Gallipoli. Throughout are vivid descriptions of the carnage seen on Gallipoli, much of which was able to avoid censorship as his account was written when invalided back to Australia in early 1916 with jaundice - written from notes made while on duty. Common topics are the arms and ammunition used both by Turkish and Australian soldiers, food and water supplies, 'fishing' as a result of shells dropping in the ocean and stunning fish, and Youdale's near misses where on several occasions shells exploded near him killing those nearby. Included are several detailed pieces of tactical information about the Battle of Lone Pine and the reaction among soldiers to the losses.
Following being invalided to Australia, Youdale then documents his journey back to Cairo, and his almost immediate successful application to join the Royal Flying Corps. Next Youdale's training is discussed, which consists of a mere 6 hours of training over a 6-day period - upon the completion of which Youdale's application to serve in the Middle East is rejected and instead he is sent near the front line in Ypres. The remainder Youdale's letters discuss tactical flying, including aerial photography and bombing missions, going as far as 10 miles behind enemy lines. The letters mention frequently being shot at, several crash landings, putting on a flying display for King George when he visits the area, and the receipt of his Military Cross and two bars.
Nearing the end of the binder are letters from various people and authorities, such as the 'Keeper of the Privy Purse', written to Youdale's family expressing their condolences and providing the family with very positive reports of his character. Within the very final pages are two letters from Captain Charles Bean written in 1937 to another historian, giving general details about Youdale.
Also included in the collection is a typed letter written in July 1918 by Youdale's brother, Lieutenant Roy Harold Youdale. The letter is written much in the same style of his brothers, describing some of his activities flying over and attacking German lines in France. This letter covers details such as high-altitude flying, the attempted bombing of an enemy-held bridge, and the general tasks undertaken by Royal Flying Corps pilots - many of which are also discussed in Captain Youdale's letters.
Captain Youdale was awarded the Military Cross with two bars, for great bravery and distinguished service. He was killed in action on 23 December 1917.