THE order to ‘fight to the last man, to the last bullet’ was one not often given in the Second World War.

But it was in these desperate circumstances that a young Glasgow soldier found himself, back in March, 1944.

Lieutenant John Young’s bravery and sacrifice helped comrades prepare for the ensuing 64-day Battle of Kohima, and marked a turning point in the war against Japan.

Today marks the 76th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the beginning of the end of the Second World War.

Like last year, celebrations will be muted, with street parties and crowds still a no-no thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

But it will still be a day to reflect and remember.

Glasgow Victory Parade in George Square.

Glasgow Victory Parade in George Square.

Older readers might recall the scenes of jubilation and the grand victory marches which took place in the heart of the city at George Square.

Our archives are full of images which capture the joy everyone felt knowing that six years of conflict, which had devastated families and communities, was coming to an end.

A Glasgow clippie showing her joy that the war is finally over on VE Day, 1945.

A Glasgow clippie showing her joy that the war is finally over on VE Day, 1945.

This Glasgow clippie (inset) for example, made her feelings know with a cheer; while the parties went on long into the night.

On May 8, 1945, at 3pm, the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced on the radio that the war in Europe had ended, following Germany’s surrender.

Glasgow can claim many stories of bravery in battle, and one of the saddest, which always makes us stop in our tracks here at Times Past, is the moving tale of the city’s ‘forgotten hero’ Lieutenant John Young.

We might never have known about it had city businessman Roy McCallum not come upon it whole researching his own family’s military service.

Lt John Young

Lt John Young

Roy had been deeply moved by the young soldier’s story and his efforts led to a plaque being installed outside Lt Young’s former home in the west end 10 years ago.

The then Glasgow Lord Provost Bob Winter said at the time: “Lt Young’s story is one of amazing courage and care for those under his command and bravery.”

The inscription on the plaque reads: “7 Jedburgh Gardens was the home of Lieutenant John M Young, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attached The Assam Regiment who, age 24, in World War II at Kharasom near Kohima, gave his life in a heroic stand to protect India from invasion having first saved the lives of the brave men he led.”

Lt Young grew up in the west end with his two brothers and a sister, attending Hillhead High and becoming a bank clerk when he left school.

He joined the Territorial Army and then the HLI, rising quickly through the ranks. According to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ Museum: “Before the end of 1940 John Young had reached the full rank of Sergeant and had become an Instructor.

“The Highland Light Infantry was the Glasgow Regiment and a Sergeant in that unit of the British Army needed excellent soldiering skills and considerable strength of character.

“To have reached and held the rank of Sergeant in that short time John Young must have been an exceptional soldier. He was clearly a natural leader and in March 1941 he was commissioned and made an officer in The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.”

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At Kohima, John was ordered to take his company of just over 100 men to the village of Kharasom, to stop the Japanese from advancing further, and to fight to ‘the last man and the last bullet.’ For three days and nights John and his company held off attack after attack by the Japanese. On the morning of the fourth day, low on ammunition, water and food and with another Japanese battalion arriving John instructed his men to return to the regiment.

The last time they saw Lt Young, he was stacking ammunition and hand grenades preparing for the next attack.

What are your memories of VE Day? Get in touch to share your stories.