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The Man Who Never Gave Up

Kia ora, I’m Suitauloa Simon Young, and this is One Ancestor at a Time. 

Today our story begins in the place that was once the centre of the “civilised” world … London, England. This is the story of … the man who never gave up. My grandfather, Lamont Arthur Lind Young. 

To me as a child, he was a very British old man who came visiting once every year or two. A little like Sir David Attenborough to look at and hear. Grandpa and Nana wrote their birthday cards to “Master Simon Young” - a common way of addressing a boy child formally in the “olden days”, although it’s a little odd these days. 

It was long after his passing that I really “met” my grandfather Young, through his story. And that’s what I want to share today. 

Born in Fulham, London in 1906, Lamont, or Monty as he was to be known, was the eldest son of Charles Young, a Royal Navy Lieutenant, and Margaret Young, known as Daisy. 

Monty’s sister Olive - or Nonie, as she was known - was born a year later. In 1910 followed younger brother James - or Jimmy, as he was known, and the youngest, David, was born in 1912. To my knowledge, David was the only family member with no nickname! 

In 1914, the world changed. An assassination in Serbia set off a chain of events that saw all European nations entering a state of war and dragging the world with them into World War I. Charles, now a retired Lieutenant Commander, was recalled to the Royal Navy and, in early 1915 sent to Turkey to begin the Dardanelles campaign. 

We shall learn more of what happened to Charles in a future episode, but here’s the spoiler: the campaign did not end well. Charles was injured in the sinking of the ship Irresistible, and was eventually invalided out of the navy.

Life for the Young family could not have been easy. Some family stories talk of growing up with very little money. However, by now this was the beginning of the roaring twenties, and surprising opportunities were about to present themselves. 

Monty first followed his father’s footsteps, joining the Navy as a cadet. It’s at this point that the family narratives diverge. Those who liked Monty say he was thrown overboard as part of a cruel initiation ritual. Those who didn’t get on with Monty say he was thrown overboard for insubordination. Regardless of the reason, the result was a lifelong battle with emphysema that made him unsuitable for Naval service. 

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, decisions were being made which were to change the lives of the entire Young family, especially Monty. And it all started with wool… 

During the war, New Zealand’s wool exports were protected by the Royal Navy, the Mercantile Marine and the Fishing Fleet. After the war, the sheep owners of New Zealand wanted to show their gratitude to those forces, and specifically the families of those who lost their lives or livelihoods in the war. 

So, in 1920, The New Zealand Sheepowners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund was established. 

Catchy name! 

At first, the fund made charitable donations to families back “home” in England, but after a while an idea took shape. Many of the children of killed or injured servicemen were reaching working age, and at the same time, the sheep farming industry had a skill shortage. And so, in 1923, a homestead with roughly 8000 acres of both farmed and un-improved land, was purchased by the fund, and became Flock House. 

In May 1924, at the age of just 17, Monty boarded the SS Remuera from Southampton to Auckland. The Remuera was named after the fancy Auckland suburb, but Monty was to go from the urban life he had known to the untamed backblocks of Aotearoa. I cannot imagine how he must have felt. 

The photo of draft 1 of Flock House, in July 1924, has numbers on each student, I don’t know what they mean, but Monty is number one. Draft 1, number 1. Whatever it means, to me, it means he was not afraid to be first to try something new. 

As I said, Monty arrived from the rapidly technologising streets of England to the paddocks and bush of Bulls in the Rangitikei district. The shock must have been real. But I also reflect on this. In terms of language, culture and infrastructure, Monty was moving into a world that had been created just for him. This is one of the themes I want to cover in this series. Not just to learn about my ancestors, but about their times. At this time, the British Empire was a reality and New Zealand was most certainly a part of it. I’ll dive into this topic more deeply in a future video. 

The following year, younger brother James arrived at Flock House, and youngest brother David arrived in 1927. Meanwhile, sister Nonie made her own way, earning her fare by being a nanny to the children of a well-known politician. For some reason, Nonie didn’t go to Shalimar, or Girls’ Flock House, which opened in 1926. 

Life at Flock House was hard. Speaking as a child of the suburbs, I’ve heard that farming is hard work - and I believe it. But harder still is creating a farm from scratch. But that was exactly what Flock House was for - to teach its students how to create a farm from what was called “unimproved” land. No doubt these were very formative years for the three brothers. 

At some stage, Commander Young and Daisy also made their way to Aotearoa, because by 1928 Commander Young is sending letters from an address in Silverstream, Lower Hutt. 

In the 1930s, like the rest of the world, New Zealand enters the Great Depression. After the roaring twenties, jobs are now hard to come by, and Monty and his brothers join the government’s work plans, including providing labour to build the Wellington Railway Station. 

It’s hard to know the psychological toll this took on the family. I know from an anecdote that Jimmy - Uncle James, as I knew him, had a habit of carrying food in his pockets wherever he went. It was my aunt’s theory that he did this because in the Depression, he may have nearly starved. 

Now in his late 20s, Monty was a confident young man, as evidenced by his photos. In 1933, he met and fell in love with a young lady above his station. Edith Dallimore, six years his junior, daughter of a well-respected lawyer. Given the dire times they lived in, Monty did the only thing he could do - he and Edith eloped, getting married secretly in October 1933 in the Presbyterian Manse in Upper Hutt. The marriage certificate lists his occupation as “carpenter”. 

In around 1937, most of the rest of the Young family returned home to England, and Monty and Edith moved to the small town of Te Kuiti in the King Country. At the time he was working as an insurance salesman, but he wasn’t very good at it. He was tasked with selling insurance to the large staff at the Land Development Office, the area’s biggest employer, responsible for helping get bankrupt farmers back onto their farms, and helping local Maori develop their land into farms. Monty sold zero insurance policies, but the boss took pity on him, and arranged a job for him in the Land Development Office. 

It was there that Monty began learning accounting, a task which would take him many more years than he anticipated. 

By the way, around this time, several not-unimportant events happened! Monty and Edith - who later became known as Dee, I know, everyone has a nickname - had six children, born from 1936 to 1946. My dad Graeme was the eldest boy, born in 1938. There was also World War II, and - just like my other granddad - Monty served in the Home Guard, perhaps exempted from overseas service because of his health, or his many young children.

In a letter to my dad, when Dad was 38, Monty reminisces: 

I was 38 in 1944. Just recovering from a radical mastoid operation and studying madly for Merc Law Stage 2 Bookkeeping and Company Law. If I had known at that time that I had five more years of study before getting my ticket I think I might have given it up, but now, of course, I am quite glad that I stuck to it.

However, get his ticket he did, in 1949, and in 1954, Monty opened his own accounting business, at the age of 48. Which, by the way, is the age I am now. 

Monty arrived in New Zealand 100 years ago. He opened his business 70 years ago. And it was 20 years ago that I received the family tree that got me started on this family history quest. But the occasion for that family reunion was my uncle Russel’s exit from that same business, fifty years after it had begun. It changed names many times over the years, but the practice is the same one that my grandfather began after his many years of study. 

Monty asked all of his children to join him and make it a family business. My youngest uncle - the only one left - was the one who joined up, and carried on the business into the 21st century. 

At the time of my uncle’s farewell, things were hard for us. Our business at the time was struggling. As i heard my grandfather’s story of struggle again and again to pass his accountancy papers, to progress from employment to self-employment and from there to running a thriving practice, to becoming a pillar of that small railway town community… it gave me strength to do the unthinkable for me at the time. 

To me, it doesn’t matter what the move is, it’s the courage to make the move you know is the right one. It’s often the hardest one. And I’m so thankful to Monty for that lesson. 

Of course, the Monty I knew was an older man, as I said, not unlike Sir David Attenborough. By that time, everyone knew him as Bard, because of his habit of humming music like so: Bard-oom, bard-oom, bardoom… and so on. 

There’s something about nicknames and the Youngs. 

Being English, Bard was never a demonstratively affectionate man. His letter to my father is disjointed and stilted in parts. But he showed care in his own way. After my father died, Bard paid for us to visit Dad’s brother in Papua New Guinea. He made sure that we kept getting the magazine subscriptions that Dad used to bring home for free from work. Reader’s Digest, National Geographic… these all contributed to that rich childhood I mentioned. Not financially rich, but rich in knowledge and context and fodder for curiosity. 

If Monty was alive today, I have no doubt he would be on YouTube or even Tiktok. For his time, he was mad keen on media technology, as was his brother James. As soon as tape recorders were invented, they had them. Monty also loved photos, including this amazing selfie taken sometime in the 70s. And, don’t tell anyone this, but I suspect I may have inherited from Monty … a certain flair for the dramatic!

Monty and Edith - or Bard and Mother, as everyone had come to know them by then - both developed dementia in the mid 1980s. Then, in April 1986, at the age of 79, Monty passed away. Edith’s battle with dementia would last longer, and she died in August 1990.

From Southampton to the backblocks of Bulls, to marrying up, to the arduous attempts at accountancy, to raising six kids and eventually becoming a pillar of the community… I remember Bard as the man who never gave up. And Nana Young as the woman who stood by his side.

Let’s not forget the siblings. David returned home with his parents, served in the second world war, married and had children. Various uncles travelled to the UK and kept up with the family, and thanks to the wonders of social media, I was privileged to have an online chat with them just last year. I was so pleased to hear that, in the back garden of the family home in Hampshire, is a little memory of Aotearoa - a small garden shed labelled “whare” - the Maori name for house.

Nonie was a regular traveller between the UK and New Zealand. I always remembered her as a lovely great aunt. She never married, and nor did her brother James, who was also somewhat of a world traveller, and eccentric to boot. In fact, as a child, I had heard so much about Uncle James before meeting him that I assumed he was a made-up character - until I met him! Like his brother Monty, James was very enthusiastic about media, always taking tape recordings and photos. His photographic subjects were not always delighted with his work - here’s a banger he took of me, my mother and my sister. Nice work Uncle James. 

100 years after Monty stepped off the SS Remuera, what has changed, and what is the same? Wool is no longer New Zealand’s largest export - in fact, the industry is now propped up by government subsidies. We are most definitely not in “the roaring twenties” now - in fact, in many ways, the times we live in have more in common with the Great Depression. The sun has well and truly set on the British Empire … or has it? The political structure has gone, but the shadows linger. My grandfather set foot into a world made for him, and as his descendant, I enjoy the same privilege - and it is most certainly a privilege - to have my native language and culture embedded in the law, media, culture, and physical environment of this land. I am so aware of this because I have spent so much time with people of other cultures, trying to come to grips with this peculiar British culture. It is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I didn’t come by it fairly, and so I have responsibility to use that privilege wisely and compassionately. I’m sure any reasonable person would agree. 

And Flock House? It became a world-class agriculture research and training centre, operating up until the 1990s. In the early 2000s, it was in limbo, sometimes being used as a convention centre, other times being a hotel. I was lucky enough to visit the place during this “limbo” time, and was able to have a look around. You see, there’s more than one connection I have to this place - but we will return to that later. 

I’m at pains to add that the place is now private property - so please, no visitors. However… there is a 100th anniversary celebration of Flock House being held this July, in the thriving metropolis of Palmerston North. If you’re connected with Flock House - whether you’re descended from one of the original drafts, or your connection comes from its later incarnation as a training centre, I would love to see you there. To purchase tickets or find out more, visit … that’s

There’s so much to be discovered on this journey, and I am so happy you’re on it with me. If you liked this story, please subscribe to email updates, and subscribe to the YouTube channel

I’m Suitauloa Simon Young, and thank you for learning history with me, One Ancestor at a Time.

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