Underage Cheltonian Soldiers
and detailed description of the types of enlistment into the British
Army during the Great War is given
here. Basically, the minimum age of enlistment at the
declaration of war was 19 years, being reduced to 18 years on 10th April 1918 following the manpower crisis
after the German offensive in March 1918.
During the immediate period after the declaration of war on the 4th August 1914 many men were inspired by the news, drum-beating and pressure to conform, to enlist. Men joined up for all manner of reasons, including a natural desire to quit a humdrum or arduous job, take a chance of seeing another country, or to escape family or other troubles. Volunteers usually had a considerable choice about which branch of the service they joined; many travelled considerable distances to attend a depot or recruiting office for a particular unit. They would be attracted to a Regiment or Corps by its reputation, the fact that it was the local one, or where they had relatives or pals. There is also plenty of evidence that the Army connived in the recruitment of under-age soldiers (although it is most definitely NOT true that the typical Tommy was 16 and lied about his age to get in).
After the form filling and the examinations, the process was concluded by the recruit 'taking the King's Shilling' and the recruiting Sergeant taking his sixpence per man. The recruit then went home, receiving his joining instructions and travel warrant a few days later.
The following Cheltonians were underage when they enlisted and subsequently died in the service of their country.
Frederick AYRES was born in Cheltenham in the final quarter of 1899 and enlisted in February
1916 (aged 16) serving with 18th Battalion (1st Public Works
Pioneers) Middlesex Regiment. He was killed in action on
16th April 1918 (aged 18) during the Battle of Lys in the Neuve Eglise area of
northern France near to the Belgian border He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert
Leonard Ayres' parents, James and Elizabeth Ayres (nee Ornsby), resided at 33 Marle Hill Road, Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" on 11th May 1918.
James DELANEY was born in Thornbury, Glos, in the final quarter of
1898. He enlisted into 10th Battalion Gloucestershire
Regiment in March 1915 (aged 16) and was killed in
action at Bois Carre, west of Hulluch on 25th September 1915, the first day of the Battle
of Loos. He has no known grave and is commemorated on
the Loos Memorial.
Cecil Delaney's mother, Mrs Elizabeth Delaney, was associated with The Post Office, 84 Tewkesbury Road, St Peters, Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" on 25th December 1915.
Joseph Sydney KING was born
in Cheltenham during the summer of 1899. He enlisted into
the 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment in December 1914 (aged 15).
He was wounded on 25th September 1915 as Bois Carre, west of Hulluch on the first day of the Battle of
Loos and was evacuated to Netley Military Hospital,
Southampton. He died there on 8th October 1915 (aged 16) and
is buried in Cheltenham Cemetery.
Joseph King's parents, John and Annie King, resided at 6 Brunswick Buildings, Upper Bath Road, Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" on 16th October 1915.
Young Cheltonian Sailors
|Boys of 16 and over were allowed to join the Royal Navy as a Midshipman and train to become an naval officers. The boys continued their education and whilst on board a ship learned seamanship and other naval duties. At 18 or over, the boys attended the Royal Naval College and on graduation were commissioned into the Royal Navy.|
Vernon Hector CORBYN was born in Cardiff in 1898. Whilst aged 16, was serving on board HMS Cressy
when it was torpedoed along with HMS Aboukir and HMS Houge by the German
Submarine E9 on 22nd September 1914. Nearly 1,500 men were lost in the
incident, including Vernon Corbyn.
He has no known grave but the sea and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
His aunt, Miss Eveline Margaret Corbyn, resided at Easton Villas, Albert Road, Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" on 3rd October 1914.
Meynell Osborne HANWELL was born in Cheltenham in 1900.
Whilst aged 16, was serving on board HMS
Defence when it was hit by a salvo of shells and was sunk on 31st May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland.
HMS Defence had a complement of
54 officers, 845 men and 4 civilians. There were no
survivors. Meynell Hanwell has no known grave but the sea and is
commemorated on the Plymouth Naval
His parents, Major J Hanwell and Mrs Ethel Octavia Hanwell resided at Orchard Lawn, Battledown Approach, Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "War Illustrated, Volume 4, page 480".
George (aka Paul) HOPCRAFT was born in Portsmouth in 1900.
Whilst aged 16, was serving on board HMS Queen
Mary when it was sunk on 31st May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland.
HMS Queen Mary had a compliment
of 60 officers and 1.215 men, only 9 were saved. Paul
commemorated on the Portsmouth
His parents, George Paxman Hopcraft and Mrs Mildred Hopcraft, resided at Old Gable House, Southam, near Cheltenham.
The photo was published in "The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic" on 10 June 1916.
Page last updated: 1st August 2013
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