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Remembered Today:

16 year old KIA Gallipoli?


asdarley
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I have been researching a soldier from my village war memorial ( Chetnole Dorset)

Pvt 12583 Charles Edgar Travers

5th Btn Dorsets

He is recorded as being KIA 21st Aug 1915 ( I presume in the Dorsets failed attack on Scimitar Hill)

According to the CWGC web site he is commemorated on Panel 136/138 Helles Memorial No age given.

However, I have a problem! The census return for 1901 has the family, then living in the neighbouring village of Liegh, recording his age as 2years so his d.o.b. must be taken as 1889.

IF this information is correct it would make Charles 16 at the time of his death.

I know the western front had several 16 year old casualties but could/would the army have shipped a 16 year old to Gallipoli?

Is he the youngest casualty in Gallipoli?

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I assume you mean 1899 not 1889. This actually illustrates one possibility viz

The census entry contains an error and he was older that 2 in 1901. No census is ever error free and slips of the pen are frequent. Someone could have written 2 instead of 12, 4 sometimes got mistranscribed as 2. etc.

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FreeBMD has him born last quarter of 1898:

Births Dec 1898: Travers, Charles Edgar - Sherborne 5a 313

Also, the battalion I research had one 16 year old (and several 17 year old) casualty at Gallipoli.

Cheers,

Stuart

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Thanks for the swift replies! Yes the dates in error! It should be 1898! The reason for my query was that I had understood that no one under the age of 18 could serve abroad. Or is this incorrect? (it would seem so!) Or, were people turning a "blind eye"?

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Pals

Pte. James Martin was the youngest Australian to die

at Gallipoli , (DoD)

Pte Martin was 14 yrs. 9 months.

He is remembered on Panel 65 at the Lone Pine Memorial

Peter

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Thanks again for the additional info. The spread of ages on the Helles Memorial is amazing. The number of young lads is also very, very sobering.

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Seems to have been quite common with territorial battalions, especially early in the war. Officially only troops 19 years old or over could serve overseas (those 18 and younger had to stay at home until old enough). However, in practice the descision of who could go seems to have largely come down to the discretion of the commanding officer, and very often 'a blind eye' was turned.

cheers

Steve

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However, in practice the descision of who could go seems to have largely come down to the discretion of the commanding officer, and very often 'a blind eye' was turned.

I think also parental permision had to be obtained.

In mid war questions were asked in the House and the 18yr rule was enforced as a result.

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The reason for my query was that I had understood that no one under the age of 18 could serve abroad. Or is this incorrect?

In addition to blind eyes there were hundreds of boys under 18 at Gallipoli with official sanction, many of whom were KIA or died of wounds and disease. The minimum age for boys in the Navy to be at sea was 16. So boys died when HMS Goliath and the rest of the ships sank or were hit with splinters flying.

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John Travers Cornwell tried to join the Navy (under age) in 1914, joined in 1915 (having reached recruitment age), went to sea at 16 and was dead before he was 16 1/2; VC gazetted almost 4 months before his 17th birthday.

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Earlier this year in Pink Farm Cemetery, Gallipoli I came across this grave stone:

12869 Private T H Bull

Royal Welsh Fusiliers

1 January 1916

Aged 16

Their glory shall not be blotted out

Believed to be buried in this cemetery

One of the last men to die on the peninsula

Moriaty

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Thanks for the swift replies! Yes the dates in error! It should be 1898! The reason for my query was that I had understood that no one under the age of 18 could serve abroad. Or is this incorrect? (it would seem so!) Or, were people turning a "blind eye"?

The official policy in 1914 was that soldiers under 19, and 'boys' under 18, primarily drummers, buglers, pipers, trumpeters, could go, with the consent of the CO. This is enshrined in regulations.

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  • 2 months later...

the youngest soldier recorded as being KIA at gallipoli is J.A Townsend,who was a 15 years old drummer from the east lancashire regiment, he is burried in skew bridge cemetery at helles

regards

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest MWhittaker

Joseph Alfred Townsend (although listed sometimes as Joseph Aloysius).

As far as I know, he is regarded as the youngest soldier killed at Gallipoli. (There was a younger Australian that died, but from disease, not killed in action).

Joseph was the brother of my Grandfather.

I've attached a couple of items...

Martin Whittaker

York

From the Accrington Observer, 1915

CLITHEROE DRUMMER KILLED

Company Sergeant-Major Townsend, the recruiting officer for Clitheroe, has received definite information that his son, Drummer Joseph Townsend, of the 4th East Lancashire Regiment, has been killed in action at the Dardenelles. Sergeant-Major Townsend had three sons in the 4th Battalion, and one of them sends the sad news, saying he saw his brother hit in the breast, causing a severe wound, from which he died within a few minutes.

There is also a mention in a poem once read by the Prime Minister of Turkey.

GALLIPOLI - A POSTWAR EPIC

BULENT ECEVIT

“What land were you torn away from,

what makes you so sad having come here”

Asked Mehmet, the soldier from Anatolia

addressing the Anzac lying near

“FROM THE UTTERMOST ENDS OF THE WORLD I come

so it writes on my tombstone”

answered the youthful Anzac “and here I am

buried in a land that I had not even known”

“do not be disheartened mate”

Mehmet told him tenderly

“you share with us the same fate

in the bosom of our country

you are not a stranger anymore

you have become a Mehmet just like me”

a paradise on earth Gallipoli

is a burial under the ground

those who lost their lives in fighting

lie there mingled in friendly compound

Mehmet then asked an English soldier

who seemed to be at the playing age

“how old are you little brother

what brought you here at such an early stage”

“I am fifteen forever” the English soldier said

“in the village from where I come

I used to play war with the children

arousing them with my drum

then I found myself in the front

was it real or a game before I could tell

my drum fell silent

as I was struck with a shell

a place was dug for me in Gallipoli

on my stone was inscribed “DRUMMER AGE FIFTEEN”

thus ended my playful task and this is the record

of what I have done and what I have been”

A distant drum bereaved of its master

was weeping somewhere around

as drops of tear fell on it

with the soft rainfall on the ground

what winds had hurled

all those youthful braves

from four continents of the world

to the Gallipoli graves

Mehmet asked in wonder

they were English or Scotch

they were French or Senegalese

they were Indians or Nepalese

they were Anzacs

from Australia and New Zealand

shipfuls of soldiers who had landed

on the lacy bays of Gallipoli not knowing why

climbed the hills and slopes rising high

digging trenches cutting the earth like wounds

to shelter as graves those were to die

Some were “BELIEVED TO BE BURIED”

in one cemetery or other

some were in “GRAVES UNKNOWN”

all had “ENTERED INTO REST”

in the language of the tombstone

at the age of sixteen or seventeen or eighteen

under the soil of Gallipoli

thus their short-lived stories were told

as inscriptions on tablets of old

buried there Mehmet of Anatolia

without a stone to tell

consoled them saying “brothers

I understand you well

for centuries I also had to die

in distant lands not knowing why

for the first time I gave my life not feeling sore

for I gave it here for my own in a war

thus the sultan’s fief tilled for ages with my hand

has now become for me a motherland

you who died in this land you did not know

are no more foreigner or foe

for the land which you could not take

has taken you to her bosom too

you therefore belong here

as much as I do”

In Gallipoli a strange war was fought

cooling off the feelings

as fighting became hot

it was a ruthless war

yet breeding respect

in heart-to-heart exchange

as confronting trenches

fell into closer range

turning foe to friend

as the fighters reached their end

the war came to a close

those who survived

returned to their lands and homes

leaving the dead behind

wild flowers wave after wave

replaced the retiring soldiers

wild roses and mountain tulips and daisies

were spread as rugs on the ground

covering trench-by-trench

the wounds of fighting on the earth

the sheep turned the bunkers into sheds

the birds replaced the bullets in the sky

nature with hands holding the plough instead of guns

captured back the battlegrounds

with its flowers and fruits and greenery

and life returned to the soil

as traces of blood were effaced

turning the hell of the battlefield

into a paradise on earth

Gallipoli now abounds

with gardensful

with nationsful

of burial grounds

a paradise on earth Gallipoli

is a burial under the ground

those who lost their lives in fighting

lie there mingled in friendly compound

“lying side by side”

as “friends in each other’s arms”

they may “sleep in comfort and peace”

in the land for which they died

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