British & Commonwealth Military Badge Forum

Recent Books by Forum Members


Go Back   British & Commonwealth Military Badge Forum > Everything Else > Other Military Topics

 Other Pages: Galleries, Links etc.
Glossary  Books by Forum Members     Canadian Pre 1914    CEF    CEF Badge Inscriptions   Canadian post 1920     Canadian post 1953     British Cavalry Badges     Makers' Marks    Pipers' Badges  Canadian Cloth Titles  Books  SEARCH
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-05-21, 09:23 AM
gurkharifles's Avatar
gurkharifles gurkharifles is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 797
Default Commonwealth War Graves - Age 14

This was on a CWGC social media post and I thought I'd share some of it with you - I must admit I had to do a double take when I saw the headstone and saw his age. How was that even possible ?
Thomas Joseph Woodgate was born 31 Dec 1903, the sixth of seven children. He joined the RAF in Sept 1918 giving his date of birth as 3 Sept 1900 - but his physical description was "slight build - 5'5" tall with a 29"chest" ( did he really look 18? ) - he gave his civilian occupation as a "general labourer" though presumably he was still at school. He was onboard the RMS Leinster when it was sunk by a German U Boat in Oct 1918 - 578 lives were lost including Joseph. His body was recovered and buried in a military cemetery in Dublin - I'm not sure at what point his true age became known - but at least they recorded it correctly on his headstone. I suspect he was the youngest RAF casualty of the war. Tim
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1749.jpg (69.7 KB, 50 views)
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-21, 09:42 AM
mike_vee's Avatar
mike_vee mike_vee is offline
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Uxbridge
Posts: 2,508

He is also listed on the Kilkenny WW1 Memorial Wall.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Kilkenny.jpg (89.5 KB, 20 views)
British Legion/Royal British Legion , Poppy/Remembrance/Commemorative.

Poppy and British Legion Wanted & Spares for sale/swap
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-21, 10:28 AM
arrestingu arrestingu is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: uk
Posts: 1,592

..... tragic, and sadly more common place than you think. My own Grandad fought in France from aged 15, he lied when he joined, but survived the war.
..... not sure how old boy ratings were in the RN during WW1 ??
During the Napoleonic era boy ratings were common place as we're boy midshipman.
I agree I think he must be one of the youngest RAF casualties....sadly another waist of young life.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-21, 11:03 AM
Mike_2817's Avatar
Mike_2817 Mike_2817 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: North Yorkshire
Posts: 2,403

The Regulations for Recruiting for the Regular Army published in 1903 laid out the criteria under which boys aged between fourteen and seventeen years could be recruited and the roles they were permitted to take on. Any boy enlisting in this way had to produce a certificate of good character, his birth or baptism certificate, proof of his elementary school education to at least Standard V, and have the written consent of his parents.

For boys being enlisted to Infantry Battalions, they could serve as trumpeters, buglers or musicians and each Infantry Battalion could have up to eight boys on their roll.

Boy service was suspended in 1914 and resumed in 1920 for home service.
Sua Tela Tonanti

Wanted Poppy Pins
Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-21, 10:37 AM
dumdum's Avatar
dumdum dumdum is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 965


There is a book that I've read (tissues needed...) about Australia's "boy soldiers". The title is "The Lost Boys" and is clearly a reference to Peter Pan.

I forget now what the youngest age quoted is but I think that 13 seems to come to mind, but there is also the example of two boys who stowed away on board a troopship being carried aboard wrapped up in some blankets.

They were aged 11 and 12 if memory serves me correctly. They were "discovered" and returned to Australia but this still serves to underscore the extent to which the desire for adventure gripped the population at the time.

A member may be able to correct me on some of the above which is just my recall of this work.

They also quote the enlistment of boys as buglers as a means of circumventing the age normally accepted.

An interesting, well-written account in my opinion.
Reply With Quote
Old 14-05-21, 11:10 AM
Wobbler's Avatar
Wobbler Wobbler is offline
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: London
Posts: 70

My Great Uncle Henry was also just 15 when he followed his older brother into the Middlesex Regiment. Born in 1900, he had put 1897 on his enlistment form. Fortunately he was found out and discharged in time so came to no harm. What a generation they were!

Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt

Last edited by Wobbler; 21-05-21 at 02:31 PM.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 10:19 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.