Newfoundland and Labrador: a Contribution Remembered (part 18)


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

enemy.)



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.