Eton boys in England ready for war.
The story goes that under-age youths wishing to enlist during the war used to write the number eighteen on a piece of paper placed into the sole of their shoe. This was done in order to deceive the enrollment officer when asked if they were over 18...
The British army resisted any suggestion that recruits prove their age by producing their birth certificates when enlisting. It was a scandal which provoked complaints in Parliament. The National Service League also protested, claiming that around 15% of wartime recruits were underage.
The army eventually allowed underage soldiers to be reclaimed by their parents.
According to populair belief the youngest boy to enlist in the allied armies was John Condon from Waterford, Ireland. He was supposedly 12 years old.
John Condon went with the Royal Irish Regiment to Flanders. He died on 24th May 1915, during a German gas-attack near Ypres.
Picture right: Gravestone nr. 6322 at the Poelkapelle British Cemetery in Belgium, mentions his age as 14.
Investigations in 2002 by Aurel Sercu from Ypres, Flanders, revealed that someone else may be buried in John Condon's grave. Sercu also found indications that John Condon was in fact 18 years old.
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