Recruitment: minimum age, qualifications etc.

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under age soldiers

Postby kaiser » 30 Jun 2008 13:57

the paper work that came with my Grenadier Guards QSA say's that he was 16 when he joined in 1893, but at nearly 6ft he got away with it :wink:

Any one else got young soldiers in there collection?

Andrew
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Re: under age soldiers

Postby busaboy » 30 Jun 2008 21:46

Hi,

Iv'e a group to R.E., Egypt, Khedives, Q.S.A. L.S.G.C. who signed up in 1876 aged 15 and was 4ft 10 tall.

Steve.
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Recruitment: minimum age, qualifications etc.

Postby vivace49 » 09 Feb 2009 15:11

How young were males recruited into the Army and how would men choose which Regiment to join? I presume the answer to these questions alters during the period 1850-1890 as the Army ( and peoples' attitude) changed so considerably during this time.
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Re: Recruitment

Postby Eric CL » 09 Feb 2009 16:36

To make short, each regiment had its own recruiting party, so what a young (or not so young) man wanting to 'take the Queen's Shilling' in a particular unit had to do was to pick up the proper party.
I don't think the system changed much through the 19th Century.
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Re: Recruitment

Postby vivace49 » 09 Feb 2009 22:43

Thankyou for replying but do you know the legal minimum age and was it always adhered to?
Was there a specific role for the boy soldier?
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Re: Recruitment

Postby vivace49 » 10 Feb 2009 12:48

I've finally tracked down a book on the Victorian Army at Home by Alan Ramsay Skelley which has a very detailed account of recruitment throughout the 19th Century. Early on you are correct about the Queen's Shilling and men were often tricked into taking it as the recruitment officer was paid for each recruit. A man who had got drunk might wake up the next morning to find that he had accepted the the shilling without any recollection of having done so but later in the century this practice was banned. Recruitment became a serious problem because the soldiers had such a dreadful reputation and there conditions of service were aweful. Consequently there were many debates to change the length of service, the living conditions and the marriage problems to try to appeal to more men. By 1881 advertisements were being run in 140 local and national newspapers and the army was presenting itself better as being an honourable and rewarding profession.
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Re: Recruitment

Postby Liz » 11 Feb 2009 03:48

Hi Vivace49

I see you have posted a little more info on recruitment in the late Victorian era under this related topic: http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=1089. Here's some info on the minimum legal age question, focusing first on the rank and file.

In the early Victorian era, children as young as 6 might be working full time to support themselves and their families. There were a number of laws passed to try to increase the minimum working age but most were unsuccessful until schooling became both cheap and mandatory. For military purposes, however, an enlistment age of 13 - 15 was common. At least three early VC winners were 15 at the time they won their award: 2 in the Crimea, 1 circa 1860 in China. If you were somewhere like the Royal Hibernian Military School, you often enlisted within days of your birthday.

Height was also supposed to be a factor. While there were definitely some strapping 6'+ teenage recruits, I've also seen enlistment records for teenage recruits as short as 4'8", not to mention an 1890s uniform jacket for a 15 year old that would barely fit a healthy 10 year old today... I suspect it often came down to how desperate the individual regiment or unit was to find a) recruits or b) jobs for the sons of deceased or current servicemen.

The situation with officers was somewhat different. During the Napoleonic era it was common for army officers to take up their commission at age 12-15 but this age got pushed back as educational standards increased for the middle/upper class. In the early Victorian era it was more common for officers to start their career at age 17-18. Subalterns in certain specialities may, however, have been slightly older because you had to have qualification or to pass an exam to secure an officer's commission in the artillery, the engineers and (usually but not always) medicine.

The requirement to pass exams for entrance/promotion had spread to most if not all army officer ranks by the end of the Victorian era. I don't think anybody's posted an actual military exam paper but a civil/public service example is posted here http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=709. Note also that the above comments relate to army officers. The navy had required men to pass an exam to get above the rank of midshipman for many many years; an ancestor of mine sat his naval lieutenant's exam in the 1770s and the practice may well be far older.

Cheers,

Liz
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Re: Recruitment

Postby vivace49 » 11 Feb 2009 10:32

Thankyou Liz for your replies. Fascinating information . I will follow up the links and look forward to exploring this forum further. Mary
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Age & enlistment

Postby PaulBudden » 21 Mar 2009 00:55

After posting my other stuff regarding GH BUDDEN Snr & Jnr I'm quite intrigued that Jnr was enlisted at 12 years of age..

what happened to the age of consent or am I being quite crasse in that this was not an issue in Victorian times?

Note added by moderator:
This thread has been merged with an existing thread on recruitment (minimum age, qualifications etc.)
The BUDDEN-specific thread referred to above is http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=1325
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Re: Age & enlistment

Postby DavidB » 21 Mar 2009 10:16

PaulBudden wrote:what happened to the age of consent or am I being quite crasse in that this was not an issue in Victorian times?


If we widen the debate from military issues just for a moment, I think you're getting a bit ahead of history! :D

- Children worked down mines as "trappers" or "coal bearers". The Mines Act 1842 forbade the employment of boys under the age of 10 though (so that's all right). :)
- Younger children than that worked 7 days a week in the cotton mills, factories and brickworks. Sometimes they started working at the age of 4 or 5.
- Children of between 5 and 10 worked as chimney sweeps in the narrow winding chimney passages in large houses. This was actually forbidden by law in 1832 but was often ignored after that.

I'm sure there are other examples, but Victorian children grew up rather quicker than mollycoddled modern kids (often they didn't have much choice)
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Re: Age & enlistment

Postby PaulBudden » 21 Mar 2009 11:01

Yes I was aware of the conditions pertaining to the times :D

and although not being a child of the Victorian era I remember my own very early years in the days of rationing and very few cars :lol:

I was thinking more along the lines of a 12 year old having the right to enlist in the armed services, or would he have needed parental consent, his father was already serving, so I guess that may have been taken into consideration?
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Re: Age & enlistment

Postby Mark » 21 Mar 2009 12:55

The fact that his father was serving (and possibly a Senior NCO) will no doubt have had something to do with it. Perhaps by the time his son reached the age of 12 they simply found 'work' for him to do and keep the lad occupied - so technically enlisted at that young age. However it is unlikely he would have served at this point as a soldier (as we think of it today) but rather employed doing odd-jobs for the regiment.

Of course I am taking an educated guess here but I would think it is something along these lines.

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Re: Recruitment: minimum age, qualifications etc.

Postby jersey » 20 Oct 2009 09:48

My grand dad joined the Royal Artillery in 1885 when he was 16 and 10 months, said he was 18 and 10. Obviously got away with it as in his army career of
25 years and nearly 5 in the GW his age was always given as 2 over what he really was.
David
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Age for joining volunteer units?

Postby zerostate » 06 Aug 2010 03:17

Hello,

At what age were you allowed to join a Volunteer unit? Please provide a reference if possible (even if it is secondary).

Thanks in advance,

Chris

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Re: Recruitment: minimum age, qualifications etc.

Postby Maureene » 24 Sep 2011 02:05

Here are some webpages which discuss the recruitment of boy soldiers

*Your Archives has a page called Enlistment of Boy Soldiers in the British Army, 1795-1959
http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.go ... _1795-1959

*The following link has a description of the book Trumpeters: The Story of the Royal Artillery's Boy Trumpeters by Brian Cloughley, published 2008 It says “They mustered to man service at the age of 17½ or 18”
http://astore.amazon.co.uk/faminbriinds ... 1846830621

*The following link from TACA The Army Children Archive gives details of the enlistment of an orphan boy at age 5 as a drummer in 1786 following the death of his soldier father
http://www.archhistory.co.uk/taca/history.html (scroll down)

Cheers
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