Indeed. PRE-war many youngsters enlisted at the ages of 14 to 17 years, and served for long periods away from their homes. Boy Soldiers had to sign papers at enlistment to serve for 9 years with the Colours and 3 years on the Reserve. This meant that this service did not commence until he had attained the age of 18 years. A boy enlisting at 15 years therefore could not complete his terms of service until he had completed 12 years with the Colours.
Though the ubiquitous drummerboys and RN "powder monkeys" of a bygone day "visibly" belonged off the battlefield by the 20th century, don't forget where Baden-Powell's idea
came from! During the Siege of Mafeking in the 2nd Boer War, Baden-Powell recruited and trained 12-15 year old boys as scouts, thus freeing up the limited number of men in the town for the actual fighting. At the outbreak of the First World War, boys as young as 13 were caught up in the overwhelming tide of patriotism and in huge numbers cheerfully enlisted for active service others to avoid the harsh and dreary lives they had working in British industry. Many were to serve in the bloodiest battles of the war, such as ex-miner Dick Trafford who took part in the Battle of Loos, and Frank Lindley who, seeking to avenge his dead brother, went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Both were just 16. Typically many were able to pass themselves off as older men, such as George Thomas Paget, who at 17 joined a Bantam battalion (The Bantams were [email protected]
recruits who came in UNDER the minimum height requirement initially, but as manpower ran out...!)in the Welsh Regiment. George died of wounds in captivity just 5 weeks after landing in France. George Mahers who served briefly in France when he was just 13 years
and 9 months old. He was later sent back to England along with five other visibly under-age boys.
Regarding the HISTORY of British Army "boy soldiers" - this page details the Archive
material extant about them -
http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.go ... _1795-1959
And of course in WWII children frequently fought in insurrections. During the Holocaust, Jews of all ages, including teenagers such as Shalom Yoran, participated in the Jewish resistance simply in order to survive. Many members of the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair
fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Many other anti-fascist resistance movements across Nazi-occupied Europe consisted partially of children (for example, Szare Szeregi
in Poland). A number of child soldiers served in the Soviet Union's armed forces during the war; in some cases, orphans also unofficially joined the Soviet Red Army. Such children were affectionately known as "son of the regiment" (сын полка) and sometimes willingly performed military missions such as reconnaissance.
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds