I was recently in the company of a fifteen year old boy at a friend’s party. He’s tall and strong and obviously loves sport as he gravitated to the backyard tennis game as soon as he arrived. He played gently with the preschoolers but with vigour and intent against older opponents – particularly the middle aged men.
Looking at this present day fifteen year old I couldn’t help but think about Basil Stubbs. Basil was a fifteen year old lad in 1914 and, like I imagine many fifteen year old boys during the years of the First World War, spent time considering the pros and cons of enlistment. Basil Stubbs felt very strongly about his ability to assist the war effort and wrote to the Lieutenant-Governor’s secretary and then directly to the Lieutenant-Governor. These letters display clear penmanship, a passionate frame of mind and a few spelling mistakes (which he politely apologises for).
During the course of the First World War standards for age, minimum height and minimum chest measurement for enlistment in the AIF were altered.
The requirements in August 1914 were 18–35 years, height of 5ft 6in and chest measurement of 34 inches. In June 1915 the age range and minimum height requirements were changed to 18–45 years and 5ft 2in, with the minimum height being lowered again to 5ft in April 1917.” http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/
The age during the war years didn’t drop below 18, but there are accounts of younger or older men determined to enlist and exaggerating their actual age.
I do wonder about Basil Stubbs – I haven’t been able to locate a war service entry for him and I wonder what became of such a passionate lad. Do you know?