Teenage Tommies

Many of thoses who died in the First World War were still teenagers, barely more than children. The youngest to enlist was James Wright from Lyndon – although he wasn’t the youngest to die. He was employed in agricultural work and enlisted on the 14th October, 1914 in the Lincolnshire Regiment, aged 15 years, one month and five days. He died in April 1918, a seasoned soldier aged just 18.

William George Edward Clifton – at 16 years, two months and 14 days – is the youngest of all soldiers from Rutland to have died and one of the youngest killed on the Western Front. He was the son of Mrs Annie Clifton of Barrowden and was only 15 years and 4 months old when he enlisted in the 4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Territorials.

Eighty-one of those who died from Rutland are known to have been aged 19 or less.  They include another 17 year old – Thomas Burdett from Wing.  He enlisted aged 17 years and one month, on 13 November 1914, and was killed five months later.

There were also twelve young Rutland men who died aged 18, and 64 who were 19.  William Shelvey from Morcott was one of those 18 year olds. He was keen to go and fight for his country and was only 17 when he enlisted with the Leicestershire Regmient. He was killed fighting in the Battle of the Somme.