After leaving school at 17, and enrolling in the University of Leeds, Yonge joined the Army Training Corps during 1917-1918. After the war ended, Yonge read history at the University of Oxford, before transferring to the University of Edinburgh in 1919 to study forestry and later zoology. He was a Baxter Natural Science Scholar while at Edinburgh, working as an Assistant Naturalist with the Marine Biological Association, mainly at Plymouth.
After graduation with a B.Sc. in 1922, Yonge proceeded to a PhD on the digestive system of marine invertebrates. He took his D.Sc in 1927, for his research into oysters, and then moved to Cambridge in 1927 as a Balfour student, where he was invited to join and lead the Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-1929. Yonge, his wife and his colleagues in the expedition spent a year off the coast of Queensland, studying Australia's Great Barrier Reef, in particular Low Isles Reef. Their work was published in the book, A year on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as other publications.
Yonge married Dr Martha "Mattie" Lennox in 1927, a fellow student he had met during their days at Edinburgh, where she was reading medicine. They had two children, Elspeth (born 1931) and Robin (born 1934). Mattie Lennox Yonge died in 1945. In 1955, Yonge became father-in-law of the physicist Bruno Touschek due to Elspeth's marriage.
Yonge died in 1986. He was survived by his second wife, Phyllis, who he married in 1954. They had a son, Christopher (born 1955).
- Morton, B. (1992). "Charles Maurice Yonge. 9 December 1899-17 March 1986". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 38: 378. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1992.0020.
- "University of Glasgow :: Story :: Biography of Charles Maurice Yonge". www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
- Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- firstname.lastname@example.org. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-07.