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NIGEL

Maximum Age

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NIGEL

Does anybody have the answer to the following questions ;-

What was the maximum entrance age to serve in ww1.

What was the oldest soldiers age when killed.

Was there any other old soldier regiments besides the 25th Batt. royal fusiliers

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Julian Dawson

I can give a part answer to this.

The oldest man to die on the Somme was 68. Lt. Harry Webber was the officer for the 7th South Lancs transport, and was killed by a single stray shell on July 21st 1916. So presumably the oldest person to die in the whole war was older than 68?

Source: Before Endeavours Fade

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NIGEL

thanks julian but why would somebody of that age be there and allowed to be in charge when obviously too old

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Max
thanks julian but why would somebody of that age be there and allowed to be in charge when obviously too old

Hello Nigel

On what basis have you decided that Lt. Webber was too old to carry out his duties? Obviously the Bn CO considered him fit for the task.

Andy

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NIGEL

dont know andy just a wild question perhaps unable to hear that whistling sound getting closer !

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Guest stevenbec

Mate,

Age has always been a strange one in any Army. When you have such young men serving and so old ones in Command.

I beleive the AIF operated on the 19 to 38 rule with Birth Cert.

This was never followed in pratice because you could enlist and go OS (overseas) at 18 with a note from your mum.

Now soldiers aged from 40 to 60 were enlisted in some eight Remount Sqn's for the AIF and Light Horse. Many of these men where RTA (returned to Australia) in early 1916 but many served throught out the war.

There were always men who fall outside these age guidelines as any men who can perform his duty can be of use and if not he could be sent to other jobs, as happen to many wounded soldiers who didn't want to return home after medical down grading. They were uses in units of the AASC and Provo Corps.

S.B

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NIGEL

One of the reasons i am asking steven is that my greatgrandad was 55 when he died while serving with the 25th batt r. fusiliers in africa and that battalion seemed to be made up of alot of older soldiers shall we say and i wondered if this was the only old codger battalion or regiment, meaning is that where he ended up because all the other s refused him on age or was he experienced for what they needed

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Guest Desmond6

I'll come back on this one - don't have exact information to hand. But there is a little piece in old papers about a man who had fought in the Afghan wars serving. I think he was aged 60 in 1916 and received a shrapnel wound.

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Max

Slightly off topic, but I think that Blucher was 72 when he lead his men in an attack at Waterloo. He was also suffering injury from a fall from his horse the day before.

Andy

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Geoff S

According to records I have the oldest Australian KIA was Pte H J Gibbs of the 14th Bn killed at the Somme in 1918 at 64 yrs of age.

It was believed Mr Harry Brown enlisted into the AIF aged 70 and served to the end of the war. He served as a Pte in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1877,in the Kaffir War in Egypt in 1882, and with the French in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 prior to joining the AIF.

Similarly, Cpl George Paul fought in thr Ashanti War in 1873-4, Zulu War in 1879, Tel-el-kebir in 1882, and went twice to the Boer War 1899-1902. He enlisted in the AIF aged 69 and was in the front line in France with the Tunnellers.

from RSSILA records (1939)

Cheers

Geoff S

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Muerrisch

AGEISM rears its head!

I am 66, take huge amounts of exercise, hold down several very demanding voluntary jobs, ring bells, have successfully run a large chunk of MoD and could certainly, had my training and career been military, have qualified as a Donkey, leading Lions.

Any other old scrotes agree?

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NIGEL

No offence with the agism bit ---------i am just trying to find out if my relative was rejected by any other branch of the army and could only get into the 25th or he was took on because of his experience in the american army prior to ww1

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Andrew Hesketh

Wasn't Blucher a bit 'off his head' at Waterloo? Something to do with believing he was pregnant?

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Max
Wasn't Blucher a bit 'off his head' at Waterloo? Something to do with believing he was pregnant?

Not at Waterloo, but shortly afterwards he believed that he was pregnant with an elephant fathered by a French Fusilier. Nothing odd about that....or is it just me.

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Julian Dawson

But back to Webber...

Apparently he had made strenuous efforts to enlist since 1914. Perhaps someone can shed more light on his story?

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Anthony Bagshaw

Hi Everyone,

Very interesting topic!

In the local cemetery there is the Commonwealth War Grave of Sapper Alexander Connolly who was 63 years old and serving with the Royal Engineers during the First War. He died 15/1/1918.

There are also several soldiers aged 50 and above.

Strange when you look around, you only seem to see the young casualties of the war. We seem to forget that 'old people' gave their lives for us.

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NIGEL

Anthony------old people------tut--tut--------im thinking you are about to get belted by a zimmer frame

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Guest stevenbec

Mate,

As the war went on medical standards were lowed so men with minor prolems or age were overlooked if they could still do their jobs.

The AIF recruited only those two Remount Regt's (four Sqn's each) from those to old for nornal service. But many were returned early because they were of no further use. But many got away from it by transfering to other jobs in the Army. But many over age men were recruited in normal units and did serve in France later in the war.

I would not be surprised that the British would have those units that could be used to garrison places where there was little chance of action. Made up of men who were medicaly down graded for what ever reason.

Was his Bn such a unit?

Remember the Germans used such units to garrison their fronts and rears so why not the British?

S.B

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chris basey

Two 'old codgers':

1. 4124 Pte R.H.BALL 2nd/5th Norfolk Regiment who died on 5th September 1915, age 73 (Seventy-three). He is buried in Norwich Cemetery. Unable to find more details than on CWGC but would certanly like to know in what caacity he served.

2. As has already been mentioned - Lt Henry WEBBER. From Martin Middlebrook's "The First Day on the Somme" 1971:

HENRY WEBBER 1848 – 1916

One of the most remarkable members of the British Army of the First World War must have been Harry Webber. In 1914, he was sixty-six years old, over twenty years past the Army’s normal age limit, and his family of four sons and four daughters were all grown up. He had already lived a very full life, having been a member of the London Stock Exchange for forty-two years. He lived at Horley in Surrey and was a prominent member in a great variety of local affairs: a Justice of the Peace, a County Councillor since the formation of the Surrey County Council, a Churchwarden and President of the local Boys Scouts Association. He took part in many of the fashionable sports: cricket, shooting, hunting (as Master of the Old Surrey and Burstow Hunt). Three of his sons were Army officers serving in France and he longed to join them.

First, Webber applied to the War Office, offering to serve ‘in any capacity’ but his offer was rejected. Next, he recruited a company of ‘Rough riders’ – fellow-horsemen like himself – and offered this unit complete to the Army, but again he was rejected. He never gave up and, possibly to rid themselves of this persistent old gentleman, the War Office eventually gave him a commission. After a very short training period, Henry Webber went to France as a battalion transport officer at the ripe old age of sixty-eight, a remarkable achievement for perseverance.

He was sent to join the 7th South Lancs, a New Army battalion, in the 19th (Western) Division. He was accepted quite normally by the younger officers in the battalion; he performed his duties well and not many knew his true age, although the CO found that his own father and Webber had rowed together at Oxford in the same year, over half a century earlier. Webber hoped that he might meet and salute his three sons who all held ranks higher than his.

Late on the afternoon of 30th June 1916, the men due to attack the next morning marched out of the villages where they had been billeted. It was a moment charged with emotion as all those remaining behind turned out to give the fighting men a good send off. One man to be left behind was Lieut Henry Webber. Although his duties as Transport Officer would normally have kept the sixty-eight year-old out of any action, many men were finding excuses to go up to the trenches and his CO had specifically ordered Webber to remain behind.

All next day. The First Day of the Somme, the 19th (Western) Division had remained in the trenches of the Tara-Usna Line, just outside Albert. Fresh orders were that they should attack the German front line at 5pm but this was cancelled and four Lancashire battalions were ordered to turn back and march to the rear. When Lt Webber with the battalion transport met the 7th Lancs that evening he was greeted by smiling friends.

Despite the carnage of 1st July, Lt Webber’s battalion, which was on the outskirts of Albert, was not touched by the battle.

On 21st July the 7th Lancs moved up to relieve a battalion in the front line near Marmetz Wood. That night Henry Webber took supplies as usual with the battalion transport. Leaving his men to unload the horses, he went over to where the Co was talking to a group of officers. Into this routine, peaceful scene there suddenly dropped a single, heavy German shell. When the smoke and dust had cleared it was found that twelve men and three horses had been hit. Henry Webber lay unconscious, badly wounded in the head. He and the other wounded were rushed to a Dressing Station but, for Webber, it was to late. He never regained consciousness and died that night.

The news of the death of this old warrior was noted in high places. His family received special messages of sympathy from the King and Queen and from the Army Council – unusual tributes to a dead lieutenant of infantry. Webber’s devotion to duty was further honoured when he was mentioned in the C in C’s Despatches. His wife never recovered from the shock of his death and died two years later but ironically, his three sons all survived the war. He is commemorated at the Dartmoor Cemetery near to the village of Becordel-Becourt.

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NIGEL

TO STEVENBEC------

The Battalion he joined was the 25th Frontiersmen, a unique Battalion, which went on a hunt and destroy mission in Africa fighting a very different war that was being fought in Europe.

The Frontiersmen were made up of hunters, old soldiers and indian fighters from America and Canada, which he may have been as he served 11 years in the 5th Calvary before 1900.

He joined in March and was injured in the first battle and died 3 weeks later in July 1915 in what is now Kenya.

They fought many more battles while in Africa and were disbanded in 1918, they also have a V.C. winner who was an Australian and was killed while in Africa.

The other unique thing about this Battalion is that they recieved no training before going off to fight---i just wondered if he was took on because of his experience or only after being rejected by all the others, it seems the family story could be true, it was his experience from all the info supplied by the others who i say thankyou to.....

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Guest stevenbec

I think I remember reading something about that unit in a book on Von Lettlow.

And their attempt to hunt him down like he was a big game animal.

I believe they did kill a number of Von Lettlow's men during this time but never got him.

Of cause the book was a Fiction book about Von Lettlow called "The Ghosts of Africa" by William Stevenson (author of "A Man called Intrepid") but contained this episod.

Cheers

S.B

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Guest Desmond6

Here's my man ...

Sapper Charles Loughrey, Carninney, Ballymena, of the Royal Engineers, who has had six month's experience of the front, has been discharged with a pension owing to the loss of an eye caused by a splinter from a shell.

Sapper Loughrey is an employee of Mr. John Carson, Builder. He is an old campaigner and was through the Afghan war in '79 with the Cameronians. He is 60 years of age and like an old warrior he enjoyed his service at the front.

Comparing the luck of some with his own experience, he says: "Some of the young ones are out more than three years and I was only 8 days up in the danger zone when I got it in the eye. Sure I was through the Afghan and only got a wee skit of a bullet."

Ballymena Observer, September 7, 1917.

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HarryBettsMCDCM
I'll come back on this one - don't have exact information to hand. But there is a little piece in old papers about a man who had fought in the Afghan wars serving. I think he was aged 60 in 1916 and received a shrapnel wound.

As I mentioned in another similar thread I have the Afghanistan 1878-80 Medal & 1914~15 Star Trio of:Lance Sergt,William J.Blythe,30th Foot [1 of Only 2 ,30th Foot NC0s to recieve the Afghan Medal] & Sergeant East Lancashire Regiment & RAF in WW1,he was born in 1858.& discharged on 11.11.,1918!

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DirtyDick

Hello

I did read that the official age limits for the Kitchener Volunteers was 19 to 38, as per usual entry age for Regular Army.

The 1916 MSA conscripted 18-41 year-old men and in 1918 the upper limit was raised to 50. Soldiers were meant to be 19 to serve overseas, but in 1918 this had been reduced to 18 years 6 months.

Robert Graves refers to men in their sixties and young teenage boys being in his battalion when he arrived in France, but most had been weeded out - either discharged or removed to support echelons - within a year or so.

With regard to Australia, I believe they first allowed 20-35 year olds at the start of the war; by early 1915 the upper age limit had been raised to 40; then, in 1916 (I think) 45 years. There is a website detailing this (I think if you type keywords such as 'Light Horse' and 'Age limit' into google) but I don't have the address.

Apparently, by the time of the March Offensive of 1918 many infantryman were aged 19 or under or about 45 years old; a factor largely created through Army expansion, bad management of resources and the human attrition of K volunteers in their 20s and 30s.

All this information has come straight off the top of my head... which is worrying. :blink:

Richard

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NIGEL

Harry he hadnt enlisted for the war though unless he had to re-enlist to join the RAF

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