Army Museum of Tasmania secure a new donation

FUTURE: Army Museum of Tasmania manager Major Chris Talbot with medals donated by the Youl family of Leighlands. Picture: Supplied
FUTURE: Army Museum of Tasmania manager Major Chris Talbot with medals donated by the Youl family of Leighlands. Picture: Supplied

The legacy of a dedicated Australian soldier will live on for generations thanks to the selfless donation of medals and memorabilia. 

Colonel Geoffrey Youl served in both the World Wars. 

His daughter, Leighlands farmer Gwendolyn Adams, decided to donate his medals to the Army Museum of Tasmania in an effort to preserve the legend of her father.

Mrs Adams made the significant donation of medals and a sword, won and used by her father, to go on permanent display at the museum.

After a brief discussion with her Sydney-based sister, Mrs Adams – and her “military-minded family” agreed the museum would be the best place for the items to be preserved and kept together.

“Everything will be displayed really well and my father’s contribution to the war efforts will be acknowledged, not forgotten,” she said. 

“A lot of time it’s the children of the service men and women, they hear a lot of stories and they take it in a bit.

“It’s often the grandchildren that then really get into it.”

Museum manager Major Chris Talbot thanked the family for its donation.

“It’s truly a treasure chest of Tasmanian history, including the World War I Military Cross won by Colonel Geoffrey Youl of Leighlands,” he said. 

“The collection includes Colonel Youl’s World War I service medals, plus two mentioned in despatches. 

“He also served in World War II, so we now have his World War II medals, the Edward VI Coronation Medal and Belgian Croix De Guerre.”

Colonel Youl first served on a Royal Navy Training ship in England prior to World War I as a senior cadet. 

He then joined the Artillery and later served as a Battery Commander, where he received the Military Cross, which is granted in recognition of ‘an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land’.

He commanded the Tasmanian 2/40th Battalion, where he would be controversially relieved of his post.

“On his return from his pre-deployment reconnaissance to Timor he reported the lack of adequate support for a deployment and recommended the 2/40th be deployed to defend Darwin,” Major Talbot said. 

“Subsequently the vast majority of 2/40th were captured in Timor and Darwin was bombed.”

Mrs Adams picks up the story: “He advised the Army high command that Timor was indefensible,” she said.

“He was relieved of his command for that bit of honesty, which proved to be the absolute fact.

“We had family members that were captured by the Japanese and it’s all pretty close to home, all this sort of stuff.”