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Boy soldiers

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+++DetEcTive+++ Report 1 Jun 2013 21:09

Actually, bearing this thread in mind, I did have a chuckle looking at the 'quivering leaves' on Ancestry.

One suggested tree had 'Joe Bloggs' born 1907 who enlisted in the Army in 1914.
Underage enlistees? Yes. But age 7? Come on! :-S :-D

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 1 Jun 2013 20:31

Thankyou to everyone who has replied.



mgnv Report 30 May 2013 06:09

A lookup at gets:
Regimental number(s): 1042796
Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 912 - 20
Date of Birth: 10/12/1867
Attestation paper: [links to images]

Not exactly a boy - he says he was 49 y o when he enlisted, but he lied.
He also lied abt prior military service - he fought with the 13th Michigan Regiment in the American Civil War, but he could hardly admit that, having claimed he was born after the war ended. He was actually born in 1834, and served for a year in France in a railway construction battalion - by that time the Canadians were in charge of all railway construction in the British areas. He returned to Canada early in 1918, bur before he left the UK, he met George V who wanted to meet the oldest serving soldier.


jax Report 29 May 2013 23:27

We always thought my grandfather was a boy soldier joining up in 1916 at the age of 16

I seem to remember being told how he lied to join up when infact he was 19 when he joined up and was probably forced into it, as they were by then.

Wish I could find some sort of Army record for him, but it seems his was one of the ones destroyed during WW2


Sally Report 29 May 2013 22:31

my uncle was under age but lived and suffered all his life and was never a well man

his sister in my pic lost her hubby

sally w

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 29 May 2013 21:53

PS Some, such as my great-uncle, would not have enlisted using a real name.


SylviaInCanada Report 29 May 2013 21:44

It also happened in WW2 ....................

the husband of one of my cousins enlisted at the outbreak of war in 1939, aged 16 and a few months.

There are 2 stories about it ................ one he told me himself in 2000, that his father took him down to the Recruiting Office and signed him up. Then his mother went apoplectic when she found out, went down to the office only to be told there was nothing to be done because the father had signed.

The other story was posted recently on another site by his wife (C died a few months ago) ................... her version says he was in a boy's troop of some sort, had been away at camp, and was on his way home when the declaration of war was announced. His father had also been at camp, being some sort of Territorial Army man, and went to the Recruiting Office with C.

C gave me the impression that he had not been happy about it.

He was wounded, but survived the war .............. and married my cousin who had nursed him at the hospital :-D

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 29 May 2013 21:41

Richard Van Emden is very knowledgeable on this subject and he has been very happy to reply to my contacting him.
He has written a book called Boy Soldiers of the Great War.

A great-uncle of mine was only 13, I think, when he enlisted.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 29 May 2013 21:03

It is so sad, isn’t it?

The one person who I’ve been told enlisted underage was OH’s grandfather. Unfortunately his records must be amongst the Burned Papers.

When he had second thought and told his father, his father said the equivalent of ‘you’ve made your bed; now you must lie on it’. An older brother had already enlisted.

Grandfather survived the war (obviously) but with injuries to his back meaning he had to wear a metal ribbed corset all his life. He treated his medals with distain, allowing father in Law to play with them – they disappeared while FiL was still living at home.

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 29 May 2013 18:08

I've been looking at military records this week and found yet another of my relatives who enlisted for WW1 under age. This one was just a few weeks past his 16th birthday, claiming to be 19 and 4 months, his true age was found out and he was sent home. Another died before his 18th birthday in Egypt just a few months after enlisting.

I wonder if you have found the same in your tree? I look at my son who is older than both these two were, and find it so sad that mothers lost their lads before they were even 'grown'.

Edited slightly (6.58) as I re-read and realised my wording was not 'reading' as I intended. :-)