Discussion in 'War Grave Photographs' started by Recce_Mitch, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    While searching for Recce war graves I came across these two. Are they the youngest of both World Wars?

    In Memory of

    14434704, 13th (2/4th Bn. The South Lancashire Regt.) Bn., Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
    who died age 16
    on 23 July 1944
    Son of William Henry and Daisy Nellie Johns, of Stamshaw, Portsmouth.
    Remembered with honour
    In Memory of

    Rifleman A E FRENCH
    C/7259, 18th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps
    who died age 16
    on 15 June 1916

    Remembered with honour
    :poppy: :poppy: :poppy:


    Attached Files:

  2. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    I think there is a 15 year old buried at Brrokwood

  3. GPRegt

    GPRegt Senior Member

    An Old Boy from Kings Norton Boys' School in Birmingham:

    Initials: E
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Boy 1st Class
    Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
    Unit Text: H.M.S. "Hawke."
    Age: 14
    Date of Death: 15/10/1914
    Service No: J/24984
    Additional information: Son of Edwin Hyatt Warden and Martha Emma Warden, of 95, Midland Rd., King's Norton, Birmingham.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 3.

    Here's an account of the sinking of the Hawke.

    Some 80 Cadets were killed. Of those, whose ages are shown on the CWGC list, Ernest Warden is the youngest. There are a couple of 15 year olds.

    Steve W.
  4. spidge


    I think there is a 15 year old buried at Brrokwood


    I have spoken about this one before on another thread. Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck who retired to Morocco and died age 96 is buried next to Raymod Steed at Ben M'Sik cemetery at Casablanca.

    The bravery of a 14-year-old boy, the youngest from Britain to die serving in World War II, should be remembered say campaigners.

    Raymond Steed.jpg

    Raymod Steed youngest at 14.jpg

    BBC NEWS | UK | Wales | South East Wales | Honour bid for youngest war hero

    Besides Raymond Steed there were more under age lads killed.

    Memorial to youngest and oldest seamen killed
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I thought John Condon was youngest Great War casualty.

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    Youngest known battle casualty of the war.
  6. spidge


    I thought John Condon was youngest Great War casualty.

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    Steed was IIRC 14years and 207 days.

    Do you know what age Condon was?

    Steed is portrayed as the youngest Commonwealth casualty of WW2. I did not read the question correctly as it said "both world wars" and I assumed it said WW2.

    From CWGC website: Campaigners for War Grave Commemorations
    It is with a burning sense of responsibility to all John Condon grave visitors, past, present & future, that we present here the findings of our investigation into the case of John Condon & of Thomas Carthy, who supposedly lies buried next to him.
    The results of our investigation show two major problems:-
    (a) John Condon was not age 14 when KIA 24/5/15, he was age 18.
    (b) The two unknown British soldiers exhumed in 1923, were misidentified as Ptes. Condon & Carthy & the true identity of the man buried in the grave marked 'John Condon' is 6322 Rifleman Patrick Fitzsimmons, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, KIA 16/6/15, age 35, the husband of Bridget Fitzsimmons, of 9 Raphael St., Belfast.
    Listed below are all the relevant details from the CWGC burial return, Irish Civil Registers, War Diaries, Army service papers, medal rolls, trench maps & information from the "Soldiers Died CD" database, which form the evidence of an irrefutable case of the two mistaken identities made in 1923 & the true age of John Condon.
  7. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Most of these youngsters served on ships. Does anyone know the history of the two I first asked about as they served in the Army.

  8. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    I thought John Condon was youngest Great War casualty.

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    Recent research has shown that Condon was actually 19 when he died.

    Most people now accept that the youngest soldier to die on the Western Front was Valentine Joe Strudwick, age 15.

    The Navy in WW1 was slightly different to the army in that you could join at under 18.
  9. RJL

    RJL Senior Member

    Belfast, Shankill Road Cemetery has young RAF private Walter Ambrose Sterling aged 14. I don't think he saw action and died of flu in England.
  10. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    Slightly off topic, but back in 1955 I boarded at a home in suburban Melbourne.

    The husband was an ex RAN sailor who served as a 'Boy Sailor' at 14 on the first HMAS 'Sydney', when it took on and sank the german 'Emden in WW1.

    I asked him what it was like, and he said it was a "great thrill".

    I am sure it was.

  11. spidge


    Belfast, Shankill Road Cemetery has young RAF private Walter Ambrose Sterling aged 14. I don't think he saw action and died of flu in England.

    He was actually 15!

  12. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

  13. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    My great uncle Ivor Thomas J33530 was, I think, a 15 year old boy sailor in the RN and died at HMS Vivid Plymouth on 15/ 0/1915 of illness.

    Haven't got his records here at the moment, in storage.

  14. RJL

    RJL Senior Member

    Thanks for that Link Spidge. I'd no idea that Walter had actually been to France.
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Came across this thread some time ago and it stuck in my head so that when a friend sent me a copy of something he'd written about young Jewish service-men in the Great War I knew just where to post it :)

    Jewish under-age soldiers in the First World War
    by Harold Pollins

    It is a commonplace that very many of those who joined the British army in the Great War were under the minimum age for recruitment. This was 18 years at the start of the war, 19 being the minimum for overseas service. The general public was apprised of the subject in a television programme on Channel 4 on 14 June 2004, ‘ Britain‘s Boy Soldiers’. It is not known how many such boys did in fact join, but one estimate is that they amounted to ‘far in excess of 250,000’. 1 One reason for their recruitment was that there was no obligation to produce evidence of age; there are numerous stories of recruiting officers accepting boys who were obviously below age.
    There is no reason why, especially in the euphoric early days of the war, some young Jews should not
    have been caught up in the excitement and volunteered for the army. Two such under-age Jews have been written about before- they were Joseph Rosenbloom and Robert Barnett. The account of Joseph Rosenbloom’s service was written by him. Two of his brothers joined the army, the first to join being Norman (born 1895) who enlisted on 10th August 1914. Perhaps it was because of his oldest brother’s entry into the army that Joseph, the youngest, born 15th February 1901, enlisted in September 1914 aged 13 years 9 months. He had been a pupil at the Jews’ Free School in Stepney, and he told his story in the March 1916 edition of the school magazine, under the heading, ‘The History of 14 months soldiering’. 2 He claimed that having enlisted initially in the London Welsh Regiment, but his father immediately reclaimed him. The boy then re-joined, this time in the Essex Regiment, going to Warley, Brentwood, Essex, the depot of the regiment. He did six months’ training; he wrote that the Colonel asked for volunteers ‘for the front’. He was among 50 who volunteered and, as part of the 29th division, sailed for Gallipoli. He recorded that he took part in the initial landing on 25th April, was wounded on 6th June, was evacuated to Alexandria, but was back in Gallipoli in July. He remained there until November when he started his journey back to England. ‘My father had been after me again’. He arrived back in January 1916; ’Now I am at work, and think seriously I had better stick to it’. It is noteworthy that he would still have been under age at the end of the war.
    There are three footnotes to this story. First, apart from his brother Norman joining the army (although discharged as unfit in 1915), his other brother Cyril enlisted at first in the Scots Guards but was then transferred to the Royal Engineers. Their cousin, 49052 Pte Harry Rosenbloom, born Edinburgh, was

    killed in action while in 11 Royal Scots and is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial. 3 Second, the Jewish Chronicle (henceforth JC)printed an interview with Lawrence G. Bowman, headmaster of the Jews’ Free School, in April 1916, entitled, ’The Jews’ Free School and the War’. He spoke of the 580 former pupils who were serving not counting some who has attested as Christians. He included an account of Rosenbloom‘s story, based on Joseph’s account in the school magazine; strangely the headmaster called him Myer Rosenbloom. He explained how he was withdrawn from the army: ‘As Rosenbloom was under 14, his father was summoned by the School Attendance Officer for not sendingMyer to School. This is how the case came to the ears of the War Office, and Rosenbloom was discharged on account of the untrue statement he made about his age’. 4
    Thirdly, no documentary evidence has come to light which confirms his story; the only account is his own in his school magazine. Ian Hook, Keeper of the Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford, has kindly checked the records of the 1st bn Essex Regiment and can find nothing about him.
    However, Mr Hook has found a soldier who more or less fits Joseph Rosenbloom’s account. He served under the name of Joseph Rose. He enlisted as 15950 in the latter part of November 1914 and landed at Gallipoli on 2nd June 1915 where he joined 1 Essex. He was wounded and was then discharged as being under age. Apart from the difference in the date on which he arrived at Gallipoli, most of the rest of the information about him appears to refer to Rosenbloom, including being born in the King’s Cross area of London, and his father’s name being Henry. However, the records state that he re-enlisted in the Essex Regiment, as number 48504, on 2nd June 1919 at the recorded age of 19 years 11 months. This was clearly
    a fictitious age, not uncommon in army records..
    The second boy who has been written about was 5509 Rfn Robert Barnett 1 Rifle Brigade; that was the name he served under, his birth-name being Raphael Glitzenstein. He was born on 25th June 1899 and so was just over 15 years of age when he joined at the start of the war. He was killed in action on 19th December 1914, aged 15 years and 6 months was the youngest Rifleman of the Rifle Brigade to be killed in action. 5 The CWGC recorded him as ’One of the youngest battle casualties of the war’.
    Two other under-age soldiers were mentioned by Richard van Emden in a general
    statement: 6
    It was always possible during enlistment for a boy to give false name to escape detention … Michael Cohen enlisted in August 1914 giving the name Michael Cohen. Harold Lautenberg, from Hackney in London, became Harold Lawton, although in his case jettisoning his ancestry was probably as much a motive as concealing his identity.
    The papers of both these Jewish soldiers have survived in the ‘Burnt Records’ (WO363). 2204 Michael

    Cowan of Blackburn enlisted on 15th August 1914 in the 4 Manchester. His father was Max Cohen. Between 1st October 1914 and the end of the year he faced 7 disciplinary charges. Since he was awarded the 1914-15 Star he must have served abroad but was discharged on 6th August 1915, the cause of discharge being under age. His commanding officer asked whether he could be placed on the Reserve as his age was then 18 years 1 month, but this was refused.
    The account by van Emden of Harold Lautenberg is somewhat garbled. He enlisted on 18th April 1915 in the 19 London (TF) as Harry Lautenberg, his apparent age being 19 years 2 months. He was discharged on 28 August 1915 for a mis-statement as to age. His age on discharge was recorded as 16 years 9 months. He re-enlisted a year later, on 21st October 1916, as 34375 Pte Harry Isidore Lautenberg in a Training Reserve bn, stating his age as 17 years 11 months, his apparent age being 18 years 2 months. Eventually he was G/20524 in the Royal West Kent. There are two statements about his change of name in his papers. One by an officer states that after his discharge in 1915 his father changed his name to Lawton; the other, in an affidavit signed by the soldier, dated 17th October 1917, states that he had changed his name by Deed Poll (but I have been unable to find a record in the London Gazette of any such Deed Poll.)
    In the Pension Records at the National Archives (WO364) I came across the papers of Samuel Cohen who enlisted in the Essex Regiment on 7th July 1915 and whose papers give two ’apparent ages’, 18 and 19. It was soon discovered that he was in fact 16 years and 4 days, his birth date being 8th July 1899 and he was discharged, because of the mis-statement as to age, on 31st July 1915. He re-enlisted on 8th July 1917, his 18th birthday, in the Labour Corps.
    Quite clearly, potential recruits were not required to provide proof of their age when they
    enlisted, but one example shows that sometimes it was asked for. A relation of my father, named Hyman Gorsky, who was born in 1899, was reported, by his brother, in a note to the JC, that Hyman aged 15 years and 6 months had left home on 28th February 1915 to join the Royal Navy, had been ‘entered,’ but had been sent home to get his birth certificate. Since then he had disappeared. 7
    Another of the same age was the uncle of Shirley Behrens, of Manchester, who told her story to the Manchester Jewish Museum: 8
    My mother was one of five, four girls and one boy. The boy of the family, my mother’s elder brother, during the First World War when he was fifteen, he enlisted in the forces and my grandmother went straight down to the recruiting office and schlepped him out of there, he shouldn’t have done it as he was too young’.
    Probably the youngest Jew in uniform was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but he was in a

    different category. He was Reuben Ginsberg who was a trumpeter and such boys were allowed to be sent abroad under the minimum age for overseas service. As with Joseph Rosenbloom the first information about him was in newspaper reports, in the JC, but this time we have his Canadian army papersand also
    those of his father, George. The first JC report was about the father, born in Malta, who had served in various units, including in the Boer War. 9 It said that he had been a Royal Marine in 1882 when he was present at the bombardment of Alexandria, but his army papers give two dates for his birth, 1872 and 1875. He could hardly have served at the age of 7 or 10. 10
    He had enlisted in the CEF at the outbreak of war and was in the first draft to go to England, as a Staff-Sergeant. In the JC account, headed ’An Old Soldier at the Front. Interesting Career’, he was said to have ‘done yeoman service for the Empire for a period of thirty years’. He had served in the Malta Fencibles, and served in the Boer War of 1899-1901, then went to Canada and was a non-commissioned officer in the 6th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. At the medical examination, on his enlistment in 1914, he was recorded as having three bullet wounds and had campaign medals from the Boer War. The JC also mentioned that he frequently officiated as hazan [cantor] to the Canadian troops during the Boer War and in the camp near Montreal. 11
    Although Reuben, the son, was mentioned in the JC report, as being aged 12, and as a trumpeter in the battery, a fuller account was given a year later. 12 In an article entitled ’A Modern David. Bar Mitzvah Boy Hero’ he was described at ‘The youngest soldier in the British and Colonial armies’, and the occasion was his bar mitzvah in February at the Ramsgate Synagogue. This report stated that Reuben had wished to be with his father and stowed away on the ship. Halfway across the Atlantic Reuben made himself known, pleaded to be allowed to remain with the troops, and was thereupon enlisted as a trumpeter. After a course of training the battery, to which Reuben was attached, was ordered to France. He carried messages, on horse-back or motor-cycle, and was wounded. He was brought to Shorncliffe in Kent where the Assistant Chaplain, Rev. H. Shandel ‘discovered’ him, found that he was due to be bar mitzvah, and arranged for the ceremony to be carried out at Ramsgate Synagogue. He wore his tallit [prayer shawl] ‘which he always put on before going into action , and it bore the traces of battle upon it’. The minister and his wife arranged a reception for him and among the few presents was ‘an embroidered tephillin [phylacteries] bag with his regimental emblem’.
    His army papers, perhaps inevitably, give some different information, although confirming that he was in the army, as 86051 Trumpeter Ginsberg, 1st Reserve Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. 13 They record his birthplace as Cardiff, Wales, on 17 February 1901, but there is no record of the birth of a Reuben Ginsberg in Cardiff at that date; however, his discharge documents record his age on his discharge

    on 26th March 1916 as 13 years 1 month. That would mean that he was born in February 1903 , and in fact a Reuben Ginsberg was born on 8th January 1903 in Cardiff which would roughly agree with his age being 12 in the JC report and with the 13 years 1 month stated on his discharge. But his birth certificate says that his father was Ely, a shoemaker. Two coincidences: the trade of Reuben’s father was also in leather, as a saddle maker, and on his re-enlistment in 1918 his army job was shoemaker. Moreover, the mother of the Cardiff-born Reuben was Rachael, which was also the name of the mother of Reuben, the soldier. One wonders whether George Ginsberg and Ely Ginsberg were one and the same. Another difference was that his army papers state that Reuben attested on 16 February 1915 but this was presumably in Montreal as they include a ‘Certificate of Magistrate’ signed by a Justice in Montreal on that date. This contradicts the story of his being enlisted in mid-Atlantic.
    Moreover, there is some doubt about his service in France. One section of his discharge papers states baldly: ‘No service in France confirmed’ and Reuben wrote, in answer to the question, ‘Did you at any time serve at the front in an actual theatre of war?’ ‘No. 21st Battery CFA. I served 4 months in France at base of Le Havre’. His medical sheet shows that he was in hospital at Shorncliffe with tonsillitis; there is no record of his being wounded. He was discharged to Canada in March 1916 at about the same time as his father’s first discharge. Apart from the true fact that the boy served in the army the obvious lesson from this is to take newspaper stories with a pinch of salt.
    Some Jewish soldiers who were killed or died on service had either enlisted under age or died when still under age. The first under-age Jewish soldier to die in action - Rfn Robert Barnett - has already been mentioned. Although not a soldier, Midshipman Vivian George Edward S. Schreiber, was an early casualty, aged 15. He died when HMS Monmouth sank off Chile on 1st November 1914. Two deceased soldiers in Commonwealth forces were reported as under age. A South African soldier, who died on 9th July 1916, aged 16, was 6171 Pte Samuel Gluckman, 3 South African Infantry, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The JC, 25 August 1916, page 13, commented that ‘all the persuasion of his family failed to deter him from what he considered to be his duty’. The CWGC gives 16 as the age at death of 3107089 Pte Joseph Goodstein, 116 Canadian Infantry on 29th August 1918 (whose address was in the USA.). But his papers give his date of birth as 10th October 1897, which would make him almost 21 when he died. Unless of course he fabricated his birth date. 14
    I looked at the Roll of Honour in the British Jewry Book of Honour (1922) and checked details in the CWGC, in Soldiers Died in the Great War, and in notices of death in the JC. This was to

    find ages at death, but the death was recorded in only about one-half of the deceased soldiers. I could check the reported age of death, in a number of cases, when I was able to find an entry for their birth in the Births Index of the General Register Office, supplemented by a copy of their birth certificate. For some soldiers there were files among the ‘Burnt Records‘ WO 363.. Here are some examples.
    1149 Spr Henry Goldbaum RE was born on 23rd February 1898 in Edinburgh and drowned in the
    minesweeper Hythe on 25th September 1915. He was thus aged 17, given also in the CWGC records.. (His brother 2499 Pte Philip Goldbaum 1/10 London was killed on 23rd July 1916).
    20941 Pte Percy Braham 20 KLR attested 9th November 1914 and his papers gave his age as 18 years and 60 days. In fact he was born in 1898 so was 16 at that date. He was posted to France a year later on 7th November 1915 and was killed on the first day of the Somme, 1st July 1916 , when he was just under 18.
    Strangely, there are two sets of papers in the ‘Burnt Records‘; one attestation gives his religion as C of E, and includes a declaration by a vicar. The other set gives his religion as Jewish which was undoubtedly correct. The 1901 Census shows that his father was born in Poland and was a tailor, both characteristics of recent Jewish immigrants.
    37746 Pte Isidore Strauss 11 SWB was killed on 31st July 1917, his age given in the CWGC records as 17. As he was born in Lodz, Poland, I was unable to obtain a date of birth.
    G/8741 Pte Aaron Jacob 4 Middlesex killed 29th September 1915, aged 17 in the CWGC records. I have been unable to locate him in the Births Index.
    A number, whose papers have not survived, were killed at the age of 18 which must mean that they were recruited under age or were sent abroad before the age of 19 (reduced to 18 ½ in April 1918)..
    They were:
    43067 Pte Harold David Aarons 6 Yorks.10th October 1917. Born 6th June 1898.
    1304 L/Sgt Myer Berkson Machine Gun Section 1st/4th (TF) Cheshire. 21st August 1915.
    (Gallipoli).Born 26th August 1896
    2102 Pt Harry Caplan 1st/8th Lancs Fus. 7th August 1915. (Gallipoli). Born 29th
    November 1896
    231523 Pte Lewis Cohen 2/2 London (RF) 15th June 1917
    L/10604 Pte William Alfred Davis 2 Middlesex 20th March 1915
    20944 Pte Levy Dancyger 8 KOSB. 19th June 1916. Born 1898.
    17848 Pte Joel Dreezer 1 R Dublin Fus. 30th June 1915. (Gallipoli). Born 13th December
    24280 Pte Harold Franks 15 LF. 1st June 1918. Born 28th July 1899, unless he went abroad
    after April 1918.

    28171 Pte Lewis Isaacs 1 KLR 25th September 1915. Born on 10th March 1897.
    2Lt Oscar Jacob Kohnstamm 4 N Staffs. att MGC.29th June 1916. Born on 28th February
    1898. (His brother, Capt Norman Mortimer Joseph Kohnstamm 1/18 Manchester
    was also killed.)
    S/6550 Pte Albert Levy 2 Queen’s RR. 2nd September 1916.
    L/16967 Pte Harry Myers 23 RF. 20th July 1917.
    2Lt Richard Hill Philips 15 R Warwick. 25th September 1916. Born 14th November 1897.
    1122 Cpl Joe Taylor 1 LF. 25th April 1915. (Gallipoli). Born 27th September 1897.
    52072 Pte Israel Woolf 1 Cheshire. 28th June 1918.
    [Those without birth dates have common names and therefore it is impossible to locate the right person.]

    There were also several in the RNAS, RAF, and RN:
    157250 Boy H. Michael Felperin RAF. 20th February 1919.
    Flt Sub-Lt Cyril Jewell RNAS. 8th February 1918. Born 16th March 1899.
    2Lt Myer Joseph Levine RAF. 8th May 1918. Born 10th September 1899.
    (His brother 60996 Pte Cyril Isaac Levine 112 Co MGC was also killed.)
    J/51620 OS Emmanuel Valenca HMS Turbulent 1st June 1916. Jutland. Born 31st January 1898 [as Valencia].
    Flt Lt Louis Marcus Basil Weil RNAS att RAF 6th April 1917. In the 1901 Census he is
    recorded as aged 2, born in Cape Colony.

    Among those who survived the war were these, found by chance in the ‘Burnt Records‘:
    M/296068 Dvr Aaron Henry Lazarus ASC enlisted on 28th August 1916. His papers gave his age as 17 years 4 months; he was born 5th September 1898, so he was in fact at least 17 years 11 months. 96865 Pte Myer Bloomberg SWB and Labour Corps, enlisted 5th March 1917, his papers giving his age as 17 years 11 months. He was born 31st March 1899, so he was only marginally below age.
    In the Pension Records, WO 364, are the papers of 2703 Pte Sampson Cohen who enlisted in the 13 London on 1st September 1914 at the age of 17 years 5 months. This was his exact age as he was born on 22nd April 1897 . He served throughout the war, was wounded, and was latterly in the Military Provost Staff Corps, as T/2049, according to his Medal Card, and/or in the Labour Corps, as 273022, according to his papers.
    Another was 12086 Pte Solomon Green who attested in the Leicestershire Regiment on 25th August 1914

    at the age of 17 years 11 months. He was born on 3rd September 1897, thus making him just under 17
    when he enlisted. He was recorded as starting recruits’ training on the day of attestation and was posted on 31st October 1914, soon after his 17th birthday. A third was 258172 Pte Reuben Cohen RE, who attested on 23rd February 1917, aged 15 years 11 months, his occupation being Labourer. He was discharged after
    a few months, on 20th August 1917 as being ‘no longer physically fit‘.
    For two other soldiers one has to make some assumptions as to identity. Pte M. Canin, RAMC, was listed as serving in the JC, 23rd October 1914, and I take him to be 41519 Pte Montefiore M Canin (and also 88079 RWF) in the Medal Roll which shows that he entered France on 15th July 1915. 41519 Pte Canin, M. is listed in the RAMC list in the British Jewry Book of Honour (1922), p. 519. The birth certificate of Moses Montefiore(sic) Canin gives a birthday of 25th November 1898. If I have identified the right person then he was 15 when he enlisted and 16 when he went overseas. The other soldier was also listed as serving, in the JC on 2nd April 1915; he was Pte S. Canin, 4 Lincoln. The only person with that name and initial was Solomon Canin, who was born in Boston, Lincs., on 3rd August 1897. There is no entry for him in the Medal Roll but he is recorded in the Lincolnshire Regiment list in the British Jewry Book of Honour, p. 293 as 265045 L/Cpl Canin,S. 6 bn.. Again, if this is the right person then he was 17 when he enlisted.
    I have attempted a systematic search through both sets of papers, the ‘Burnt Records’ (WO 363) and the Pension Records (WO364), looking for ‘Jewish’ forenames and surnames. Obviously there are major gaps in the ‘Burnt Records’ and I will have missed Jewish soldiers who either served under innocuous names or who in any case had ‘ordinary’ names. So there may have been more under-age Jewish soldiers than I have been able to find. However, I have omitted two under-age soldiers who are listed in BJBH and JC as I do not think they were Jews and thus were included in those publications in error. They were 301621 Rfn Harold William Marsh 1/5 London (London Rifle Brigade) killed 1 July 1916, born 1898, listed in JC, 28th March 1919, p.16; and Lt Leopold Grahame Stern RAF, killed 26th September 1918, born late in 1899, in RAF list in BJBH, p.536.

    11/1799 Pte Abraham Harris (true name Bevistein).11 Middlesex faced the firing squad on 20th March 1916. In his biography of the soldier David Lister gave his birth, in Warsaw, as 18th April 1898, which would mean he was 16 when he enlisted in September 16 and just under 18 when he died. The author informed me that the date of birth was in a school register; but in the 1911 Census his age was given as 15 which, if true, would mean he was not under age. However, it was not unusual for ages in Censuses to be wrong. 15

    1 Richard van Emden, Boy Soldiers of the Great War, Headline, 2005, p. 321. The figure of 250,000 is one which van Emden had assumed before researching the subject. Another recent work on the subject is John Oakes, Kitchener’s Lost Boys. From the Playing Fields to the Killing Fields, The History Press, 2009

    2 This has been reprinted in David Lister, Die Hard Aby! Abraham Bevistein - the Boy Soldier shot to Encourage the Others. Pen & Sword, 2005, pp.40-1. An earlier reference to Joseph Rosenbloom was in Gerry Black, J.F.S. The History of the Jews’ Free School from 1732, Tymsder Publishing, 1998, pp. 132-3

    3 I am grateful to Brian Godfrey for information about his Rosenbloom kinsmen. Norman Rosenbloom’s service record is available at The National Archives, WO364, and also on the Internet via Also available in those sources are the Medal cards of the two brothers and the cousin

    4 JC, 21st April 1916, p. 8. The only son of Lawrence Bowman, 2Lt Claude Herbert Bowman, 1/4 OBLI, was killed in action on 16th August 1917, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial

    5 D.A, Haighton, ‘Who was the Youngest Rifleman of the Rifle Brigade killed in the Great War?’, Bulletin of the Military Historical Society, Vol 59 no. 235 February 2009, pp. 135-138; Ze’ev Glicenstein (sc. Bill Gladstone), ‘Discoveries large and small’, Canadian Jewish News, 19th June 2003. Robert Barnett proved to the first cousin of Gladstone’s grandfather

    6 Van Emden in Note 1, p. 36

    7 Harold Pollins, ‘Dying to join the navy’, Shemot [journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain], vol. 12, no. 3, p. 15

    8 Shirley Behrens, ‘My Parents’ Elopement’, in accessed 22nd June 2009

    9 JC, 9th April 1915, p. 11

    10 Canadian National Archives, RG150, Accession 1992-93/106 Box 3563-11

    11 He was discharged in 1916 but re-enlisted on 18th April 1918. The second set of attestation papers give a slightly different record of his army service and also a different date for his birth: 1st March 1872 whereas in his 1914 papers it was 1st March 1875: Canadian National Archives, in Note 9.

    12 JC, 3rd March 1916, p. 16

    13 Canadian National Archives, RG150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3563-15

    14 Canadian National Archives, RG150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3624-36

    15 Lister, op. cit., in Note 2; David Lister to H. Pollins 20th July 2009
  16. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Ron, a very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Recce Mitch -
    The young Pte Johns you first started this thread with - couldn't have been in the Army any more than 12 months at the outside as his Number 1443**** indicate joining in the middle of 1943 - this is the General Service number issued at the Primary Training Unit for the six weeks Infantry training on own number close to the end of 1942 was 1437****

  18. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    I'm doing some research on Private Johns at the moment. The D-Day Museum has a couple of photographs of him which we are hoping to incorporate into some kind of display on the people of Portsmouth who died in the Second World War.
  19. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    One on the inniskillings killed in the German Air Raid on Newtownards Airfield was 16.
  20. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    The Youngest Anzac -Alick James Bryant

    - ANZAC - First World War - James Martin - Gallipoli - September 1915 - aged 14 years 9 months - Alick James Bryant - 13 years 11 months old -


    The youngest ANZAC in the First World War is generally thought to be James Martin, who landed on Gallipoli in September 1915 and then died of typhoid at the end of October, aged 14 years 9 months. He had been 14 years 3 months old when he enlisted in April 1915.
    However, Alick James Bryant seems to have been only 13 years 11 months old when he enlisted at Ashfield Drill Hall, Sydney, in March 1917. On his attestation papers, he gave his birth as 7 April 1901, although his birth certificate records that he was born on 7 April 1903.
    Alick James Bryant was born to Louisa and George Bryant of Ashfield, Sydney. His father was a produce merchant in Ashfield,
    Bryant first applied to enlist in the AIF at the beginning of March 1917, when he gave his age as 18. He actually enlisted ten days later, giving his name as John James Bryant. His mother, Louisa, had to give her consent for her son to enlist as he was aged less than 21 years, and this she did. Interestingly, Bryant’s lying only increased his age from almost 14 to almost 16, still well below the minimum age of 18.
    Somehow, whether through an innumerate clerk’s ignorance or deliberate turning of a blind eye, Bryant was accepted anyway. He was described as 5 feet 3 ½ inches tall [161 centimetres], with fair complexion and light brown hair.
    Bryant left Sydney in April and arrived two months later in Britain. He was assigned to the 1st Training Battalion at Sutton Veny on Salisbury Plain. He served there for the next seven months, except for a brief stay in hospital while being treated for tonsillitis.
    A week after returning to his unit in January 1918, he shipped out for France, joining the 4th Battalion in the Somme valley in March. However, his time on the front line would be short. Two weeks after joining the battalion, Bryant was admitted to a casualty clearing station after being exposed to gas. He was transferred to Britain and returned to the 1st Training Battalion in June. His service number was 7208.
    Soon after, on 11 June, AIF Headquarters at Horseferry Road in London received a cablegram giving Bryant’s true date of birth. He was ordered home for being under-age, although it was decided he would not be required to forfeit any pay. He returned to Australia aboard City of Karachi and was discharged on 7 November 1918.
    Bryant tried again in June 1919, applying to join the AIF for special duty. He admitted on his attestation form that he had been discharged the previous year for being under age, He entered his age on the form as 18 years 2 months and again gave his date of birth as 7 April 1901, although according to his birth certificate, at this time he would still have been only 16 years 2 months old.
    Again he was accepted, but this time it was only three weeks before he was discharged, his “services no longer required”. Undaunted, a few weeks later he applied to join the navy, again as James John Bryant, and this time he gave his date of birth as 7 April 1900. He signed up for seven years and was posted to the depot ship HMAS Penguin as a second cook’s mate. Again, he lasted only three weeks.
    Whether Bryant might be the youngest ANZAC depends largely on whether his birth certificate can be believed. As we have seen, in several cases, Bryant gave his birth date as being in 1901 (or 1900), although his birth certificate shows 1903.
    Declaring himself to be only two years older should have been an ineffective ruse, except that the AIF seemed willing to enlist under-age orphans. While Bryant was not an orphan, his father had died, and this may have counted in his favour. His parents’ marriage certificate shows they were married in 1902.
    After his discharge from the navy, nothing more is known of Bryant until the end of March 1937, when he wrote a letter to the officer in charge of base records requesting a copy of his discharge papers because the originals had been burnt when he moved house. He needed the papers because Enfield Council was giving first preference for jobs to returned soldiers. He admitted he had enlisted under a false name and date of birth when he originally joined the AIF. The army replied that Bryant needed to supply a statutory declaration stating that he had served under an assumed name, and to give his true name.
    Two years later, Bryant again wrote to the officer in charge of base records to request a duplicate Returned Soldiers badge as his had been lost. He again had to produce a statutory declaration, this time explaining how he had lost the badge. He signed the declaration “J.J. Bryant”.
    The Sydney Morning Herald published an entry on 16 November 1985 that Alick James Bryant had passed away at the War Veterans’ Home in the Sydney suburb of Narrabeen, two days earlier. The entry gave his age as 82 years.

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