b. 19/04/1896 Leeds, Yorkshire. d. 07/01/1967 Leeds, Yorkshire.
Albert Mountain (1895-1967) was born on 19th April 1896 in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He was baptised on 7th May 1896 in the Wesleyan Chapel in Richmond Hill, Leeds. His address at the time was 151 York Road Leeds. His father, James, was a native of Leeds, and his mother, Mary Ann (nee Swales) was from Ripon, and had previously been married to John Cowling.
By 1901, when Albert was six, his parents were running the Alexandra Hotel in Hurst Street, Ripon. Albert had a half brother from his mother’s first marriage, and a brother and three sisters from his mother’s second marriage. By 1911, at the age of 14, Albert was now working in a coal mine as a hurrier. Sadly, his mother had passed away and his father was now a canvasser for sewing machines.
When the war broke out in 1914, he joined the Leeds Bantams before transferring to the Leeds Pals. The 15th and 17th Battalions amalgamated on 7th December 1917 to become the 15/17 West Yorkshire Regiment. On March 23rd, 1918, Sergeant Mountain was in command of a rifle squad during the Battle of the Somme, in actions at Hamelincourt, France. When the situation was critical, Sergeant Mountain with a party of 10 men attacked an advance enemy patrol of about 200 strong, killing half of them. He then rallied his men against the main body of the enemy, to cover the retirement of the rest of his company. With only four men he held at bay 600 of the enemy for half an hour. Sergeant Mountain later took command of the flank post of the battalion, holding on for 27 hours until the enemy finally surrounded. For most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, he was awarded the Victoria Cross on June 7th, 1918.
Three days after the announcement of his award, he was presented with the VC ribbon by his CO, Major T G Gibson at a parade in the field in France. He sewed the ribbon onto his uniform. He was presented with the VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th June 1918. During the following year, he was discharged and became a chauffeur for the Lord Mayor of Leeds. He also married Ethel Smith on 27th September 1919 at St Agnes Parish Church, Leeds. They went on to have three daughters and a son.
Albert then became a timekeeper in Burton’s clothing factory in Leeds. In the 1920s he attended a couple of VC functions and was present on 21st March 1930 at a dinner in honour of the West Riding VCs. In November 1929 he attended the funeral of John Crawshaw Raynes VC and in 1950 would attend the funeral of George Sanders VC, another Leeds VC. He was also a close friend of Thomas Young VC.
In 1953, Albert became the landlord of the Miners Arms, Aberford Road, Garforth, near Leeds. In 1956, he attended the VC Centenary Celebrations in Hyde Park. Albert died at his home on 7th Januarry 1967 after a long illness. His funeral was at Garforth Parish Church, where his regiment was represented and a bugler from the 1st Battalion played the Last Post. Captain Wilfrid Edwards, another Leeds VC, attended the funeral. His body was cremated at Lawns Wood Crematorium. His VC was presented by his son to the curator of the West Yorkshire Regimental Museum in 1967 and is now held in the York Army Museum. His other medals include the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille Militaire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRINCE OF WALES REGIMENTAL MUSEUM, YORK.
BURIAL PLACE: LAWNSWOOD CEMETERY, LEEDS, YORKSHIRE. PLOT K2-380 (ASHES)
Albert Mountain's VC on display at the Prince of Wales Regimental Museum, York (February 2012).
Garforth near Leeds
Leeds VC Memorial
Mountain's medals updated display at the York Army Museum (Terry Hissey)
Garforth, Leeds (Both images courtesy of Alan Austin)