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Old 13-11-12, 17:34
BarnsleyHistorian BarnsleyHistorian is offline
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Default WW1 Boy Soldier

Yesterday I was asked to look at some pages of a WW1 Service Record that a member of the history group I attend had found for a relative. They show the enlistment of a young man (boy) aged 14 years 9 months. This is very, very obvious as his date of birth is clearly given on the Attestation page of the record. The statement of service on the next page gives his rank as BOY. So they knew exactly what was going on. He didn't serve abroad, so my guess is he carried out limited duties to free up older men for front line service.

He appears to have been transferred to a Young Soldiers Battalion in 1918 when he was still 2 months short of 16 years old. The only mention I can find of these battalions is here: http://www.warpath.orbat.com/armyinfo.htm

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A further reorganisation of the Training Reserve took place in 1917, the Battalions became more specialised in the training they carried out. In May 1917, 14 Battalions were designated Young Soldier Battalions. These Battalions took in and trained soldiers aged 18 years and one month. After completing basic training the young soldiers were posted in Company strength to Graduated Battalions. Twenty-eight Graduated Battalions were formed and linked in pairs to the Young Soldier Battalions, they would be used for Home Service while the soldiers within the Battalion finished their recruit training.
Does anyone have anymore information about these young soldiers?
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Old 13-11-12, 17:48
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Here's a link to a snip of his service record:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/5214007...in/photostream

Last edited by BarnsleyHistorian; 13-11-12 at 17:51.
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Old 13-11-12, 18:00
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I think the army did take boys aged between 14 and 16 years and trained them for specific jobs such as as drummers, bugle and trumpet players etc and required proof of age at enlistment (hence the recorded dob). They were pad less than men, who were supposed to be recruited at age 18 or more and only served abroad at the age of 19 and over (in theory, anyway).
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Old 13-11-12, 18:26
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When I was in France looking for some relatives' war graves, I saw a grave for a 15 year old.
Very sad.
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Old 13-11-12, 18:29
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The Navy recruited boys and many served in the First World War. Trawlers were also requisitioned by the War Office - the apprentices could be as young as 12.

Many young men and boys gave a false age in order to enlist - they weren't required to provide any proof of age. It's estimated that a quarter of a million may have been underage. At the Battle of Loos in May 1815, 50,000 were wounded - around 3,600 were younger than 19. Technically, they weren't even meant to be in the trenches. I've seen very young ages on war graves and I recall one of the youngest 'Shot at Dawn' victims was a 16-year-old from Jamaica.

There were a number of Young Soldier Battalions, too.

The number of boys enlisting fell when conscription was introduced.

In my family, a number of those who served in WW1, had been members of the local Territorials from the age of 14.

You might want to try posting this query on a specialist WW1 forum such as The Long, Long Trail.
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Old 13-11-12, 19:09
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Quote:
Many young men and boys gave a false age in order to enlist - they weren't required to provide any proof of age.
Yes, the army would treat those as aged 18 or 19, going on what they had been told by the recruit, but boy soldiers DID have to prove evidence of age and were recruited specifically. Having googled I see they were paid 8d a day rather than the 1s paid to those supposedly 18 or over.
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Old 13-11-12, 20:10
BarnsleyHistorian BarnsleyHistorian is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll go and have a look at the Long, Long Trail, one of my favourite sites, but I hadn't realised they have a forum.
xx
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Old 13-11-12, 20:42
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Somewhere in my mind is the idea that boy soldiers' service did not count towards their pension entitlement, in other words, under age service was not counted.

OC
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Old 13-11-12, 20:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarnsleyHistorian View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll go and have a look at the Long, Long Trail, one of my favourite sites, but I hadn't realised they have a forum.
xx
Sorry, meant to say Great War Forum.
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Old 14-11-12, 08:56
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OC .. Peter's ancestor John McCrohon was a boy soldier (his father was in the regiment) he was supposedly enlisted to look after the horses and then became a drummer. After service in Europe, UK and Ireland, went to Barbados and then to Aus. I have his pension papers and he was not entitled to any pension until he came of age and only half entitlement when he was in Barbados, but when he came to Aus, he was entitled to full pension .. after all that he died from the effects of a fall from a horse aged 39!! ..
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