To the memory of Major Ron Young
Much of the work in preparation for this project to catalogue the museum collection of Manchester Regiment medals was carried out by Major Ronald Young, always known as Ron. For this reason it has been considered appropriate that the project should be dedicated to his memory.
His connection with the Manchester Regiment began in 1947 when, as a young man of 17, he enlisted in the Regular Army at Dunham Park, Altrincham, then the 63rd Primary Training Centre (63 PTC) and staffed by the Manchester Regiment. However he decided that the infantry was not for him and his next 4 years were spent with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) until he transferred to the Royal Army Pay Corps, with which corps he was to spend the remainder of his active military career.
This proved to be a life of travel and adventure, taking him to active service as a Paymaster in Borneo, Malaya, Thailand and The Oman. He was present in September and October 1957 when three of the last exclusively British nuclear tests were carried out in Maralinga, Australia. He attended the Far East Parachute School in Singapore where he qualified for his parachute wings.
A 1965 assessment recommended Ron to be commissioned: 'As a Warrant-Officer Class 1, he has attained the highest non-commissioned rank in much less than average time during his service in the Royal Army Pay Corps. This outstanding achievement has been attained by sheer industry, unquestionable integrity and loyalty - so pleasingly coupled with a cheerful and courageous personality.' He was commissioned in May 1965.
As an Army-Paymaster he served with 22 Special Air Service (22 SAS) in the jungles of Borneo and in the Middle East; He learnt colloquial Arabic and was seconded to serve with the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS) in the Middle East.
In 1983, as Major, Ron came to Ashton-under-Lyne for his final army appointment as Adjutant of the Army Pay Office and the Greater Manchester Garrison. On his retirement from the Army he was re-employed as the Assistant Regimental Secretary Manchester of the King's Regiment and he retired finally, or so he thought, in 1995. However due to the ill health of his successor he was re-employed for a further year.
During this latter period Ron served as the Secretary of the Museum Advisory Committee, later becoming a member of the committee. His particular interest was the medal collection and in what could best be described as 'the story of the man behind the medal'. He began the mammoth task of tracing and recording as many details as possible regarding the recipients and their background.
There had long been a need in the museum for a special area designated purely for the display of the medal collection. Happily this became possible when the Ladysmith Gallery was redesigned in 2002 and a special Medal Room was created within the gallery. Ron now took the lead with members of the museum staff in the cleaning, identification and displaying of the medals. All this intensive work came to fruition in November 2002 when, on the occasion of his visit to open the new gallery, Ron was able to spend time with HRH The Prince of Wales describing the various types of medals in the collection and their history.
The groundwork which Ron Young put into the medal collection proved to be the firm base for the opportunity to proceed with the detailed cataloguing project of which these volumes are a part. Ron died suddenly in December 2006 and it is appropriate that his name should continue to be associated with the collection in which he took so much interest.