The Boy Soldiers WW1

Discussion in 'Prewar' started by spidge, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. spidge


    I watched a documentary today on "The Boy Soldiers" in the British army in WW1 and still have a lump in my throat.

    While the actual number will never be known it is estimated that there were 1,000,000 of which at least 120,000 as young as 13 & 14 never returned.

    Incidents of those who could not stand the slaughter any longer were executed for cowardice.

    Sir Arthur Markham (the Liberal MP for Mansfield) fought a tiring battle in the commons for their return to their parents up to 1916 when he died age 50.

    This happened in every army and not only in WW1 however not to this extent.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    My old mate Horace Calvert born 1899 joined the West Yorkshires in 1914, didn't like them so deserted to join Grenadier Guards. Wounded on the Somme 1916. Parents told the Army he was underage.He kept back in London until 1918 when old enough to go back. Wounded agian later that year. His only son shot down in WW2

    Another friend ,Aleck Jones,aged 16, joined 10th Glosters in 1915 after Loos. Wounded then when fit again transfered to Grenadier Guards. Back to the Front in 1918 too.

    Then my Canadian Veteran friend, Roy Henley born 1902. Joined Royal Canadian Dragoons in 1914. Transfered to 42nd Bn CEF. Wounded Vimy 1917 then again near Cambrai 1918. Stayed in RCD after the War and was SNCO in 4th Cdn Armd Div, wounded again in Normandy.

    Lovely men. Priviliged to meet them.
  3. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    I had a uncle who joined up when he was underage. However, His mother and brother both wrote to the authorities about him.

    His brother was in the same regiment and so also went to the recruit depot and spoke to them there.
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    My grandad was 15 when he joined up in the 20's. we've got a photo of him and his Intake and they really look so much more different than any 'modern' 15 year olds. I look at it a lot and can never decide if they're more childlike or more grown up, it just illustrates to me how far removed his experience must have been to my own.
  5. spidge


    I had a uncle who joined up when he was underage. However, His mother and brother both wrote to the authorities about him.

    His brother was in the same regiment and so also went to the recruit depot and spoke to them there.

    The British government did not wish to bow to pressure to return these boys from overseas so quoted:

    If still at home, the Parents can contact the commanding officer to have their underage son dismissed from the service.


    If the soldier was already overseas the decision was the Commander in Chief's only and the Government could not overule his decision.
  6. tonypll

    tonypll Junior Member

    i discovered around 10 years ago after reading about boy soldiers of WW1 that my great uncle RICHARD HORACE PELL had joined the duke of wellingtons regiment at the age of 15, he was the youngest of 8 brothers who had joined up to fight for king and country unfortunately only 3 of these brothers returned home after the war, richard was not one of them, he was killed on september 21st 1918 aged just 17 years and is buried in vaulx hill cemetary vaulx vracourt in the pas de calais france, the only one of the 5 brothers who died with a known grave.
  7. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    Whilst I have no evidence, I find it difficult to believe that nearly one in every 8 British soldiers was a 'boy' soldier.

    I do, however, give thanks that they - how ever many there were - were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    My Grandfather (Fathers father) was a boy soldier in the First World War and survived being gassed.

    His lungs were damaged and he was a invalid, confined to his bed for the last 18 months of his life, passing away in 1942, nine years before I was born.

    I have only heard good reports of his being a true gentleman and regret that I was unable to ever speak to him.

  9. RAFBoy

    RAFBoy Junior Member

    My Great Uncle joined in Oct 1915, aged 16. He served with the 1/5 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the Palestine front and was sent, with the battalion, to France in responce to the Germans 'Spring offensive' in July 1918. He was killed on the 1st Aug 1918 near Villemontoire. His Records showed his age at death as 22years - he was 18.
  10. KevinC

    KevinC Slightly wierd

    My dad used to tell me an amusing story about his father. Granddad went to volunteer when he was 16. When he got to the front of the queue he had to declare his age.
    "16, sir" he replied
    "Come back when your 18" was the reply
    Granddad went to the back of the queue again.
    He then waited patiently in line. When the same question was asked by the same officer my granddad replied "18, sir" and he was accepted.

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