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leigh kitchen

"Drummer Boys" - Boys Serving in The British Army.

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Here he is with dad, who's wearing a 1914 Star & Bar trio plus a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, looks like Kelly's wearing a ribbon bar sporting same.

Dad's wearing the busby grenade combed well in to the fur & those are interesting chin scales dad's wearing, they look continental to me - any chance they were "liberated" from the French at the same time as the Eagle of the French 8th Regiment? Regimental buttons & a Victorian Crown "GS" belt locket, whereas Kelly's wearing some kind of flamed grenade design on his by the look of it. I can't make out whether the embroidered crown above dads medals is Victorian or Kings Crown. "FAUGH AU BALLAGH" is embroidered on the scroll below the eagle & above the sphinx - & looking at that Drummy I would, too.

The photos came with a few others of different RIF Fusiliers, produced in Cairo.

1st Bn arrived in France / Flanders 23/8/14, & were n Iraq 17/10/19, Kurdiastan, Egypt June 1921 - March 1922, then to UK.

(August 1914 : in Shorncliffe. Part of 10th Brigade, 4th Division. 3 August 1917 : transferred to 36th (Ulster) Division. 24 August 1917 : transferred to 107th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division. 8 February 1918 : transferred to 108th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division).

2nd Bn went to France / Flanders 19/12/14, Salonka 6/12/15, Egypt 26/9/17, Palestine 1917-18, Egypt 27/11/18.

(August 1914 : in Quetta Division in India. returned to UK, arriving Winchester on 20 November 1914. November 1914 : attached to 82nd Brigade, 27th Division. 2 November 1916 : transferred to 31st Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division).

Due to partition in Ireland disbandments of Irish regiments in 1922 were to leave only The Royal lnniskilling Fusiliers and The Royal Irish Rifles in existence, but the Inniskillings instead reduced to a singke battalion, & Army Order 341 of 1922 amalgamated the 1st & 2nd Battlions of the RIF to leave just the 1st Battalion.

This Drummy was presumably in the original 1st Battalion as he wears the 1914 Star & Bar, whch the 2nd Battalion did'nt qualify for.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Don't forget the Boy Officers in the 19th century before commissions-by-purchase were abolished.

I've got John A. Hall's "Biographical Dictionary of British Officers Killed and Wounded, 1808-1814" in the Peninsular campaign--

Henry Gillman was an Ensign at the age of 1 year and 8 months.

Anthony Graves was an Ensign at 3

etc etc etc. :speechless::banger::speechless:

Most such "seniority" frauds (one wonders at the daily functioning of regiments permanently "blessed" with such decade-long absentees) "declined active service on account of youth" when called up for overseas duty at 4 or 7 :speechless:

... 15 being about what seems to have been the "norm," before these purchase cheats actually did the service for which their parents had been drawing their pay for years, although there are examples of 10 and 12 year olds leading troops into combat, which must have been rather alarming to the rank and file.

Yes, I'd decided not to bother with commissoned youth when I started off, but no reason why not, it adds to a varied & colourful thread - presumably buying a commission for a near - foetus was purely to ensure a place for him within the regiment concerned, usually dads old regiment no doubt. Any pay drawn by the sprog whilst he was still a juvenile non-effective presumably did'nt amount to much compared to the cost of buying his commission in the first place?

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The 'Oilette' of Casey failed to show the detail of his Drum Majors plume, but not just the red over white colouring. The White portion shown is the correct length, but what they failed show was the fact that the plume followed the crown of the bearskin. In otherwords the red portion came right over the top and stopped short of coming down the right side and as Fusiliers go it was unique to the NF. If you look carefully at the illustration you'll see a dip in his bearskin at the top right, where they obviously made the mistake and it makes me wonder whether or not they were actually using a photograph to copy from and couldn't determine where the plume began and ended.

The only other unit that wore the plume in such a style was I believe the Kettle Drummer of the Royal Scots Greys

PS

Slapped wrist - they ain't busby's, they're 'bearskins', and they follow the Guards pattern and they were also worn by Fusilier officers, while other ranks wore a 'fur cap'. Busby's are worn by R.H.A. & donkey whallopers, the bag on the side of theirs being known as a 'busby bag'.

Graham.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Yes, the red portion of the plume is completely missing, but then it isn't apparent in the 1903 photo that you show, unless it's more discernable in the original. - looks to me like they did use a photograph to work from. The missing section seems to give a halo effect.

I have no photos as such, but coloured postcards of the Scots Greys drummer showing the "comb over" plume.

I have a photo from the 1970's showing the Drummy of 3 RRF, there's an interesting aspect to his headgear in that, I'll dig it out & run it by you in the "British Equipment in NI" (which should be renamed "Royal Regiment of Fusiliers") thread.

Busbies/bearskins, I know, I know, I had a senior moment & went for busbies. I have a couple of fur caps which I've never identified - they are bearskin rather than sealskin or lambskin, but they are short haired compared to the Guards bearskin & comprised of a patchwork of pieces stitched together - a pattern of Fusilier cap of this construction was worn a volunter battalion of, I think, the Royal Fusiliers or Royal Scots Fusiliers in Edwardian times.

I've got an old busby bag, white with gold cording - just nothing to put it on.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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You'll have to photo the unknown fur caps and put them on here. Fusilier officers wore bearskins, but apparently slighty smaller in height, but the height was governed by how tall you were. The original fur cap was sealskin and then they changed to Racoon. If these two items of headgear have badge holes to the front then they're more than likely Fusiliers.

Dress Regs 1900

Graham.

PS,

Will you be able to change the title of the N.I. post to R.R.F.? If you can then I'll stick on some other RRF badges and stuff.

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Simkins has just about got it right, but is still slightly short, but that one 'Oilette' caused many future illustrators of the NF to omit the red portion and have only the bottom white portion only.

Graham.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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Interesting, it sorts the Simkins of the military art world from the chaff, even if he made a rather strange mistake wth his work - presumably he too was working from a photograph.

Here's a photo of the Mascot of 2nd Volunteer Battalion The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment), circa 1905. The Handlers wear embroidered titles on the shoulder, belt lockets bearing what looks like a flamed grenade & the " old style " Bandsman's badge (in this case with the Kings Crown), which came into use after the demise of white band tunics for red in 1871 & continued in use into WWI with some units, after the 1886 introduction of the large crowned lyre Bandsman's badge for Bandmasters & its smaller version for Bandsmen.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Excerpts from "Wikipedia":

United Kingdom - The minimum age to join the British Army is 16 and a half; parental permission is required for those under the age of 18. Approximately forty percent of Britain's military forces joined when they were 16 or 17 years of age.[25] The UK adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 24 June 2003. The Convention calls on ratifying governments to do everything feasible to ensure that members of their armed forces who are under 18 years of age do not take part in hostilities, however between June 2003 and July 2005, the British government inadvertently sent fifteen 17-year-old soldiers to Iraq, explaining the mistake as due to "the pressures on units prior to deployment".[26]

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 38, (1989) proclaimed: "State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities." The Optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict to the Convention that came into force in 2002 stipulates that its State Parties "shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons below the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities and that they are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces".[2] The Optional Protocol further obligates states to "take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices." (Art 4, Optional Protocol)[3] Likewise under the Optional Protocol states are required to demobilize children within their jurisdiction who have been recruited or used in hostilities, and to provide assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration. (Art 6(3) Optional Protocol)[4]

Under Article 8.2.26 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002, "Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime.[5]

Under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which was adopted and signed in 2002, the use of anyone under the age of 18 in combat is illegal under international law. National armed forces are permitted to recruit individuals below the age of 18, but are strictly forbidden from deploying them into combat. Non-state actors and guerrilla forces are forbidden from recruiting anyone under the age of 18 for any purpose.

This prohibition traces its roots to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, adopted in 1977, which had set the age at 15 years old. Following the civil wars of the 1990s, especially in Sierra Leone, it was recognized that the age of 18 was the most widely recognized dividing line between childhood and adulthood. The International Criminal Court embodied this principle in the Rome Statute by refusing jurisdiction over anyone who committed crimes under the age of 18 and David Crane, Chief Prosecutor in Sierra Leone, additionally refused to prosecute anyone who had committed crimes as a child soldier under the age of 18.

Red Hand Day on 12 February is an annual commemoration day to draw public attention to the practice of using children as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts.

Recently, a strong international movement has emerged to put an end to the practice.

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A New Statesman article:

Our boy soldiers

Tom Wall

Published 06 December 2004

The army looks for many of its teenage recruits in deprived areas. But international agreements categorise under-18s as children. Should the forces try to enlist them at all? By Tom Wall

Gordon Gentle joined the army in the Hillington Jobcentre in Glasgow. He had only gone to sign on, but an army recruitment team promised him a career and the chance to travel. After six weeks' training at Catterick Barracks, he was sent to Iraq. He died in a roadside bombing last June. He was only 19 years old.

"I don't think it should be allowed. He was still a boy - still doing daft things, still jumping around the street with his mates," his mother, Rose Gentle, told me. "Half of the 18-year-olds around here can't even get served in pubs, but they can join the army."

Gordon is far from unusual.

Last year, 9,515 teenagers joined the army. Shockingly, 3,225 were only 16 years old - the single largest contribution to the army (21 per cent). The others, like Gordon, were aged between 17 and 19.

A huge ?70m recruitment machine delivers these teenagers for Britain's armed forces. More than 1,000 crack recruiters, including 60 career advisers and 28 army youth teams, trawl schools, Jobcentres and high streets for likely candidates. They are backed up by 123 recruitment offices and a ?15m promotional budget spent on high-profile TV and press adverts, glossy publications and youth-oriented websites. Derek Bathgate, an army marketing co-ordinator, says their current ad campaign is directed at 16- to 25-year-olds. Tellingly, adverts are broadcast during programmes such as I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, highlights from the Champions League and MTV music awards.

The army even runs a web- site called "My Camouflage" (at the cost of ?1m) directed at children as young as 13. The budding squaddies can play online games (such as shooting alien spaceships) and compete in military themed quizzes. Once they tire of make-believe warfare, they can go to army recruitment events in their local area.

The army targets younger recruits because it believes that they respond better to training and stay longer than older ones. The colonel in charge of army recruitment, Alistair Loudon, admitted that this is "received wisdom" in the armed forces. Indeed, the last parliamentary review of the army stated that it "continues to be important to recruit young people straight from school" because "if they are not caught at this point, they are likely to take up other careers".

Gordon Gentle dreamed of becoming a mechanic, not a soldier. He wanted to run a garage and fix cars. He had even applied to do a course, but he was worried about money.

"He had never spoken about joining the army. I don't think he would have joined had he known what he was letting himself in for," says Rose Gentle. "He loved kids - he wouldn't have liked the idea of killing them."

Not only is the British army recruiting what many would regard as child soldiers, it is also targeting deprived areas. Colonel Loudon told me that the army actively recruits from deprived working-class communities in the north-east, north-west, Midlands and Scotland. Loudon (educated at Durham University, then King's College London) sees nothing wrong in this: "Where do doctors come from? Where do farmers come from? They all come from particular backgrounds. It's a matter of market forces."

Rose believes her son would still be alive if he had been a middle-class boy at college. She is angry that there were not more opportunities for Gordon to pursue his dream: "There is still absolutely nothing here for teenagers."

The Ministry of Defence has refused to be drawn on Gordon's death, but said that working-class men join because "they want to". The spokesman added that the military does not target individuals from particular socio-economic groups, but acknowledged most came from working-class communities.

In a sense, it has always been like this: the army has throughout its history recruited the poor and desperate. However, there are some differences: the military was once regarded as an honourable profession for the sons of the landed gentry. Typically, the first-born would inherit the family estate, while the younger siblings joined the army or the priesthood. Nowadays, most bright, aspiring middle-class chaps prefer the comfort of university to dusty outposts in faraway lands. Except the two princes, who are both considering careers in the armed forces (old habits die hard in some sections of society).

Despite the young princes' enthusiasm, some in the army high command are worried that Iraq and other scandals are hitting army recruitment. Although recruitment has picked up over the past two years, the army is still 2,600 under-strength. Loudon told me: "There are signs [that] applications have gone down because of parental opposition to the unpopular war in Iraq." But with troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cyprus, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, the army can ill afford to fall behind.

Even young offenders are being targeted. The Youth Justice Board is working closely with the MoD to develop training schemes for what officials call "disaffected youth". In the New Year, children as young as eight will be offered the chance to take part in camping, army assault courses and sporting activities at selected military bases. The MoD says the scheme is partly designed to "raise awareness about careers in the armed forces".

Joining the army, some would say, should not be a decision for teenagers, because it involves making a long-term commitment - not to mention enormous risks. Army recruits under the age of 18 who enlist for a 22-year term are required to serve a minimum of almost six years. Officially, soldiers can terminate their contracts after four years. However, time served before 18 is not counted; consequently, 16-year-old recruits must serve a longer term than adult soldiers before they can leave. Most western armies recruit slightly later: Italy, France and Germany all recruit at 17. Not much better, but a little.

Colonel Loudon argues that 16-year-olds should be free to join the army because it is a career like any other. He rejects the suggestion that the army is different from doing a paper round or supermarket job, because under-18s are not sent to war zones: "It's more like training." Yet critics point out that this is training for killing and involves a long-term commitment; supermarket cashiers don't kill shoplifters and can quit at any time without fear of imprisonment.

Internationally, human beings under the age of 18 are regarded as children. The British government is party to international conventions - such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child - which bar under-18s from armed conflict. The army is allowed to accept volunteers aged 16, as long as they are aware of the nature of military service and are not deployed in war zones. Yet when the Optional Protocols were adopted in 2000, the government declared that it reserved the right to deploy children where militarily necessary. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (which includes human rights groups such as Amnesty and the Red Cross) criticises this reservation as contrary to the spirit and letter of the convention. Although there are no under-18s in action now, the coalition claims that a 17-year-old British naval re- cruit took part in the military effort to dislodge the Taliban from Afghanistan.

In the negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Optional Protocols, the British, Americans and Australians refused to give an undertaking not to deploy under-18s in armed con- flicts. According to observers such as Rachel Brett from the Quaker UN Offices, they were the most vocal in opposing a total ban on child soldiers.

"We are concerned [that] UK authorities may, in the future, resort to deploying under-18s in their armed forces to take a direct part in hostilities," said a spokesman for Amnesty International. "We consider such deployment, as with recruitment, would expose them to violations of the rights to life and to be free from torture or other ill-treatment."

The dangers that teenage recruits face are not only from enemy guns. The deaths of four young soldiers - three of whom were in their teens, two of them only 17 - between 1995 and 2002, in the Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, Surrey, led many to allege that a regime of bullying, humiliation and sexual abuse was prevalent in the armed forces. According to Amnesty, there have been at least 1,748 "non-natural" deaths in UK army barracks since 1990.

Gordon Gentle was a normal teenager. As his mother said, he should have been hanging out with his mates or training to be a mechanic. Instead, he died in a strange land, thousands of miles from home.

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Two boys of the Prince of Wales' Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment), circa WWI.

The boy on the left wears the drummers badge on what looks like a colored backing on his right arm.

There's a badge or ribbon above his left breast pocket, but I can't identify it.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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And I did'nt know this -

In Australia a 1910 law required all boys between 14 and 17 years to register for military training.

Between 1911 and 1915 over 30,000 boys were prosecuted for not obeying this law.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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From "Spartacus Educational":

The British Army only had 750,000 men in August 1914. The war minister, Field-Marshall Lord Kitchener, decided Britain would need another 500,000 men to help defeat Germany. A combination of well-designed posters and passionate recruitment speeches encouraged thousands of men men to join the armed forces.

By the end of August over 300,000 men had answered the call at army recruitment centres. Many of those who had signed up were younger than the official minimum age of nineteen. The recruitment campaign was meant to encourage adults to sign up for the armed forces. Unfortunately, some younger citizens saw the posters and thought that it would be fun to be in the army. Others saw the army as an opportunity to travel or to get away from strict parents.

Hundreds of boys falsified birth dates to meet the minimum age requirements. Desperate for soldiers, recruiting officers did not always check the boy's details very carefully. A sixteen year-old later told of how he was able to join the army: "The recruiting sergeant asked me my age and when I told him he said, 'You had better go out, come in again, and tell me different.' I came back, told him I was nineteen and I was in." Private E. Lugg was able to join the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment at the age of thirteen. However, he was not the youngest soldier in the British Army, Private Lewis served at the Somme when he was only twelve.

John Cornwell was only sixteen when he won the Victoria Cross for bravery. Cornwall was on board the Chesterwhen it was attacked by four German light cruisers. Within a few minutes the Chester received seventeen hits. Thirty of her crew were killed in the bombardment and another forty-six were seriously wounded. Cornwall remained at his post on one of the ship's guns until the attack was over, but later died of his wounds.

Victor Silvester, a fourteen year old schoolboy, ran away from Ardingly College in 1914 to join the army. The recruiting officer accepted Victor's claim that he was nineteen and soon after his fifteenth birthday he was fighting on the Western Front. Victor's parents suspected he had joined the army and informed the authorities but it was not until he was wounded in 1917 that he was discovered and brought home.

On the battlefield, however, young soldiers were finding out that it was not as enjoyable as they had thought it would be. Silvester was ordered to be a member of a firing squad that executed five British soldiers for desertion. People who were late in signing up for the army began to hear about the horrors of trench war. Consequently the number of boy soldiers declined and so it was left to adults to face the terror of the battlefield.

A Punch cartoon of 11th August 1916, by F.H.Townsend:

Officer (to boy of thirteen who, in his effort to get taken on as a bugler, has given his age as sixteen): "Do you know where boys go who tell lies?"

Applicant: "To the Front, Sir."

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Leigh,

Nice photo's especially the band boys of 2nd V.B., Notts & Derby. Their shoulder titles are white worsted cotton on a red backing and they're wearing the Grey felt hat, with the khaki SD uniforms. The belt locket is probably based on a pre-1881 design for one of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. The 2nd V.B. Notts & Derby originally had their H.Q. in Bakewell, before it was moved to Chesterfield in 1898.

The talk of boy soldiers and the Great War has always been an emotional subject, but not all of it 100% fact. Boys did indeed enlist under age, but once caught you were dismissed under Kings Regulations 1912, Paragraph 392(vi) for "mis-statement as to age on enlistment" or Para 392(viii) "having made false answer on attestation".

A lot of parents and guardians were actually unaware that their sons had gone off to enlist and as such complained to their local MP's, as they wanted them back. This arguement eventually reached the corridors of power and Parliament put into motion a scheme in 1915 for rounding up underage boys who were serving at the front. At this period of time the age for active service was infact "19yrs of age". These boys were then taken to the rear and placed into "Holding Battalions" until such times as they could be sent to join their regiment. If a boys parents still pursued his return then he was dismissed from the Army. The story of these Holding Battalions was part of an article in the post was magazine "I Was There", which was written by the O.C.

Not all of them were rounded up because a lot especially those who falsified their ages, would not only be dismissed from the Army, but would also have to forfeit any medals due to them, no matter how long they had served. So many of them kept their mouths shut and contiued to serve.

These are facts based upon Army Council Instructions which actually deals with this subject, especially ACI's 221 of the 23rd December 1914 and ACI 148 of 15th June 1915. Once the "Upload" system has restored itself to the Forum I'll reproduce them for persusal.

The comments regarding Victor Silvester have I believe have caused some controversy to this date as I believe this "execution" he attended has yet to be proved.

Graham.

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This young lad 6/3397 Pte Edward Spence Boocock, 2/6th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers was discharged under KR Para 392(vi)a as previously mentioned having stated his age as 18yrs on enlistment, which wasn't true

Graham.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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An interesting Memo which also appeared in his Service Records which reads;-

"Have you examined the birth certificate of this man & have the parents applied for his discharge? Unless a man is under 17yrs of age at the time of application, he must not be discharged. Please complete entry on page4 of Attestation re birth certificate."

Somewhere in my computer I have a letter appealing to the C.O. of a T.F. battalion from a widower asking for his youngest son to be returned, who has enlisted under age, as his elder brothers are already serving. The boy was returned from the Machine Gun Section, with a note from his C.O. thanking him for "his patriotism".

Graham.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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We shouldn't forget Kipling's short story "The Drums of the Fore and Aft" about two drummer boys who wangle their way into active service in the Second Afghan War, and end up being killed as they try to rally their regiment, which has cracked and run. Possibly modelled on the battle of Maiwand.

http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/au...rumforeaft.html

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Yes, Kipling's drunken Drummer Boys save the day - & end up dead. He certainly met veterans of the Royal Berkshire Regiment who'd been at Maiwand but I've read that he met them some years after the battle. Apparently having heard their accounts of Maiwand he wrote the poem "That Day".

You can't help but think he'd heard enough about Maiwand to write the story before he met the veterans though.

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"That Day" is certainly based on the 66th. This site: http://www.britishbattles.com/second-afgha.../ahmed-khel.htm thinks that the regiment may have been the 59th, who were roughly handled at Ahmed Khel.

Kipling certainly knew veterans of the Second Afghan War, including members of the Northumberland Fusiliers. His "Tyneside Tailtwisters" are undoubtedly the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Edited by Michael Johnson

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Further to earlier posts on recruitment of those under 19yrs of age for active service here is Instruction 124 of the 26th June 1915 taken from "Circular Instructions for the Territorial Force".

Graham.

Edited by Graham Stewart

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On the question of when recruiting 'boys' ended, I have recently had some fascinating chats with 'a man in a pub'. Bob lives in Canada now, retired from running an electronics shop, but is originally from Scotland. I knew he had done been in the RAF but assumed it was Nationl Service (c. late '50's, early '60's)

However, he told me recently that he had joined the RAF as a "Boy Apprentice" at 16 and was in fact one of the older boys in his recruit unit (section? platoon?) He trained in radar mintenance eventually and served in the UK and Singapore, at Changi. Not sure when he left the service but he clearly served some time.

One anecdote, besides a description of Changi station, consisred of the following. On Day One of their service the lads were paraded before the Station Warrant Officer, who asked if any could play a musical instrument. Getting little or no response, he asked "What, not even a recorder?", at which Bob and 3-4 mates Raised their hands. Can you see this coming? He then dismissed the rest of the group to barracks and told of the 'muscians' to potato peelinf duty in the cook house, but only after asking "Didn't your dads tell you Never to volunteer for anything?"

Peter

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Hallo Gents :cheers:

the following is from research work in regards to my book on the British Military in County Mayo, Ireland:-

CONNAUGHT TELEGRAPH, April 22nd 1916:-

A SOLDIER UNDER AGE.

Mr. Doris asked the Under Secretary of State for War, if he was aware that Private Thomas Moran, No. 6521, 3rd Battalion, Connaught Rangers, enlisted at Westport on the 27th July, 1915, when he was only 17 years, 1 week, without the consent of his widowed mother, Catherine Moran, and that Mrs. Moran has made several unsuccessful applications for the discharge of her only son on the grounds that he is not of military age: and if he will state whether, if Moran cannot be discharged, he will be withdrawn from military service and placed at other necessary work until he attains the age of 19. Mr. Tenant ? I would take the liberty of referring the Honourable member to the previous answer I gave on this subject to a question put to me by the Honourable member for Blackburn on the 2nd November, 1915.

The following is the reply to Mr. Snowden referred to: -

Mr. Tenant ? The minimum age at which men are authorized to be taken for service with the Colours is at present nineteen, and no man is accepted for direct enlistment unless he gives his age on attestation as nineteen or over. Strict orders have been given to recruiting officers that unless a recruit evidently has the physique equivalent to his declared age he will not be enlisted without an examination of his birth certificate. If a recruit enlists who has declared his age to be over nineteen, but, who is actually below the age, the War Office do not consider that to be sufficient cause itself for discharging him from the Army.

Under existing arrangements, a soldier who is actually below nineteen may be sent abroad provided his physique is considered by the medical authorities to be that of a man of eighteen and a half. If his physique is below that of a man of eighteen and a half he is retained for training and Service at home until he reaches the required standard.

In practise, however, the War Office always allow a lad who is under seventeen be discharged provided application is made to his Commanding Officer, whilst he is serving at home. In the case of all soldiers serving Overseas, the question of discharge or return to his country rests with the Commanding-in-Chief, who retains only those considered fit for service abroad.

Same edition:

Pte. W. Godfrey, Leicester's, son of Mr. P. Godfrey, Irishtown, Mayo, has been killed in action. He was not yet 19.

Kevin in Deva. :cheers:

Edited by Kev in Deva

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CONNAUGHT TELEGRAPH, June 2nd 1917:-

Local Items.

Castlebar Lady?s Five Sons in the Army:

Amongst the vast numbers of Irish mothers who have given their sons to help the British Empire and Allies in their fight for the liberty of small nations and against Prussian militarism, we record the fact that Mrs. Edward Hearn, London (formerly Miss May MacDonnell, Newtown, Castlebar), has five sons in the Army. Norman and the twin boys ? Frankie and Willie ? in the British and Harry and Arthur in the American Army. At the out break of the war Frankie joined up although only 16? years old, and spent two years at the western front, taking part in almost all the big battles during that time. He was wounded three times, once slightly, twice seriously. After three months in Victoria Hospital, Netley, he has been sent again to the front and has been taking part in the big push on the ?Hindenburg Line.? Three weeks later his twin brother Willie was sent out, although neither of them yet reached 18 years of age. The eldest boy, Norman, belonging to the Cyclist Corps, is in Eastbourne military hospital recovering from double pneumonia and pleurisy.

Harry and Arthur, who are in the U.S.A. Army and fought in the late Mexican war, hope soon to be in France, like their brothers. Their uncle, Rev. Joe Hearn S. J., (formerly of Ballinrobe) came from Australia as Chaplain to one of the early contingents of the Australian forces, and has been almost continually at the front since. Those sturdy and fearless young specimens of Irish manhood are brothers of Miss Peggie Hearn and nephews of Miss Margaret MacDonnell, of Newtown, Castlebar.

Kevin in Deva. :beer:

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Kev,

Very interesting as it's seems physique was the key to underage enlistment. Although it seems by mid-1915 they appear to be clamping down on it, considering the right 'who-ha' it caused in the Press and in Parliament at the time. I just wish now I'd borrowed the "I Was There" copy from my mate, in which the C.O. of the Holding Battalions talks about his job and the role of the unit with its underage lads. Certainly in my own opinion I think the scandal of underage enlistment during WWI is taken as 'gospel', when things were a lot more complicated than what we're led to believe or what people would like to believe. When writing the book 'Tyneside Scottish' with John Sheen, I did an exercise on this, which was never published in the book, and the number of those in the Brigade, who were original T.S. enlistments, who were under 20years of age at their time of death was minimal compared to those 30 plus, which was quite a surprise at the time.

Graham.

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