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Old 10-05-21, 09:23 AM
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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
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Old 10-05-21, 09:42 AM
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He is also listed on the Kilkenny WW1 Memorial Wall.

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Old 10-05-21, 10:28 AM
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..... 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.
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Old 10-05-21, 11:03 AM
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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.
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Old 11-05-21, 10:37 AM
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Hi

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.
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Old 14-05-21, 11:10 AM
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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!
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