The 12 year old soldier of the Great War: In 1916 a 12 year old boy walked into the Recruitment Office and signed up. I can’t recall which regiment he joined but he trained as a machine gunner. He was sent out to the Somme where he spent 18 months before his mother discovered where he was and stormed into the War Office demanding that they return her son to her. This little boy’s grandson was recently interviewed and said that the whole family “knew Grand-Dad was a liar.” He sometimes made mention of his time in the trenches and they would all dig their elbows into one another’s ribs and whisper “Grand-Dad’s telling lies again” because they all knew his date of birth and knew it was impossible for a mere child to have served as a machine gunner in the Great War. They were absolutely amazed after his death to find his medals, pay book and other documents which proved the truth of his story! This story now has a place of honour in the Imperial War Museum. Apparently the authorities encouraged the newspapers to make much of this story at the time….. there were insufficient volunteers and they hoped the tale of a brave little boy would shame older men into stepping up to the plate.
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