Today's Object of the week is a paving stone - but a very special paving stone.

THIS paving stone was laid four years ago in the home village of a First World War hero who was awarded the highest military medal.

It is one of several stones which were specially-commissioned by the Government and given to councils in the areas where Victoria Cross recipients were born.

Our memorial paving stone commemorates Victoria Cross holder, Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll, which was unveiled during a moving ceremony in the shadow of a pit wheel at the Thornley Village Centre, in east Durham.

Read more: What's the story behind this haunting structure, and how has County Durham landscape been transformed?

Youll, known as Jack, was born in Thornley, County Durham, on June 6, 1897.

From the age of 15 he worked as an electrician until he joined the army. He worked his way up the ranks to become a temporary second lieutenant for the Northumberland Fusiliers.

While commanding a patrol on June 15, 1918, he came under fire near Asiago, Italy.

He was able to send his men to safety and remained to observe the situation. When he realised was unable to rejoin his company, he joined a neighbouring unit and was able to maintain control until faced with machine gun fire.

Youll rushed the gunner, captured the gun and turned it on the enemy. He led several men in three counter-attacks.

According to The London Gazette, Youll was awarded the Victoria Cross for “his complete disregard of personal safety and very gallant leading set a magnificent example to all”.

The Northern Echo: Lieutenant John Scott Youll, known as 'Jack'Lieutenant John Scott Youll, known as 'Jack'

He was later awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace and received a hero’s welcome at the Hippodrome Theatre on his return home to Thornley.

Accepting gifts of a gold watch and chain and silver cigarette case paid for by local subscription, he said: “There are two kinds of honour, the seen and the unseen. I hope the people of Thornley give the rest of the boys the same recognition on their return.”

The official citation that accompanied his Victoria Cross says: "When the enemy attacked, he maintained his position until an enemy machine gun opened fire from behind.

"He rushed the gun and having killed most of the team, opened fire on the enemy with the captured gun, inflicting heavy casualties.

"Then he organised, and carried out with a few men, three separate counter-attacks. On each occasion he drove back the enemy, but was unable to maintain his position by reason of reverse fire.

"Throughout the fighting his complete disregard of personal safety and very gallant leadership set a magnificient example to all."

Jack Youll didn't live to see the end of the Great War.

After returning to his unit, Youll was tragically killed in action at the battle of Vittorio Veneto, Italy, on October 27, 1918 - just weeks before the Armistice.

The service at the unveiling of his memorial was led by The Reverend Jon Whalley, chaplain to 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, while the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Alasdair MacConachie, unveiled the stone.

The Northern Echo: First World War hero Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll was honoured with unveiling of memorial paving stone in Thornley Picture: GAVIN ENGELBRECHTFirst World War hero Second Lieutenant John Scott Youll was honoured with unveiling of memorial paving stone in Thornley Picture: GAVIN ENGELBRECHT

A fusilier cadet detachment from Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland formed part of a guard of honour.

The event was organised by the East Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) and Thornley Parish Council.

John Murphy, East Durham AAP co-ordinator, said at the time: “Jack’s brave actions should never be forgotten and this memorial will ensure his name and incredible actions will live on for future generations.”

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