Soldiers who were Boys.
^^^ Private John Lambert enlisted in St. John’s at the age of 16 and was killed in the Battle of Langemarck in August 1917. His remains were not discovered until April 2016 (99 years later.)
When Newfoundland and Labrador were preparing to send troops overseas in WW1, recruitment was both quick and successful.
However, while British enlistment procedures at the time required recruits to be 18 years old (19 for overseas service), they didn’t require “proof of age.” Instead, recruiting officers used the convenient classification of “Apparent Age.”
Thus, many young men lied about their age so that they could enlist. This included
Thomas Ricketts, who was only 15 when he enlisted. (Ricketts would become the
youngest soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the face of the
These “Boy Soldiers” went on to fight valorously and many of them paid the supreme
sacrifice. For example, in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel alone, a total of 39 ”Boy
Soldiers” gave their lives.
21 of them have no known grave.
The little town of Heart’s Content sent 13 of their boys to the Great war and every one of them was killed.
Of great significance at this time was a Christian Youth Movement called the Church
Lad’s Brigade (The CLB), founded in 1892.
An inter-denominational youth movement, the Church Lads Brigade provided spiritual, physical, and basic military leadership training to boys. And, by 1914, many of them were among the first recruits. In fact, when the first contingent of Blue Puttees sailed overseas in October 1915, 108 of the 538 soldiers were CLB members. By the war’s end, 132 of them would be killed.
Acknowledgement to Gary Browne’s “Fallen Boy Soldiers”
One Boy Soldier was Private John Lambert. He enlisted in St. John’s at the age of 16 and was killed in the Battle of Langemarck in August 1917.
His earthly remains were not discovered until April 2016 (99 years later.)
Using the latest forensic tools, he was subsequentially identified and his modern-day family was successfully contacted in St. John’s.
He was finally laid to rest in 2020, in the New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – a British Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
In the words of a well-known hymn, they did indeed “fight the good fight, with all their
might.” The hymn lyrics urge the listener to
"Fight the good fight" "hold on life"
"run the straight race," "cast care aside" and "faint not, nor fear"
This, they did absolutely.
Although just boys, they served and died as real men - and mighty brave ones at that.
In June 2022, we look forward to having Gerry back on the battlefields with us, escorting us on a special pilgrimage to Gallipoli Turkey, to see for the first time, the last of the six Caribou along the Newfoundland Caribou Trail in Europe. Click June 2022 >
Our Guest Author Gerry Peddle
OMM. CD. BA. LTh. BD. DD.
Archdeacon Gerald Peddle was ordained a Priest of the Anglican Church of Canada in 1969. Now retired from active ministry, he has served parishes in Newfoundland and Labrador, Québec, Ontario and the Arctic. He has also served as a Chaplain to the Canadian Armed Forces. His final appointment, in the rank of Brigadier General, was as the Chaplain General at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. For the next six years, he provided specialist ministry to both National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada. In total, he has served more than 51 years in active ministry.
Gerry currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for Beechwood, Canada's National Military Cemetery in Ottawa. He has also served as an International Guide, specializing in Battlefield Tours for several years.
The Caribou Tour to Gallipoli
In June 2022, we look forward to having Gerry back on the battlefields with us, escorting us on a special pilgrimage to Gallipoli Turkey, to see for the first time, the last of the six Caribou along the Newfoundland Caribou Trail in Europe. Check out the tour June 2022 >