I first had a look at the National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918 and thought it was a great resource providing a useful database of men in the Manchester Regiment. As shown in the earlier post, reality wasn’t quite so good. However, one of the gems that popped up through my meanderings was Edward Barnett. The suggestion that a 13 year old served in France caught my eye and I subsequently verified that Edward was the youngest known member of the Manchester Regiment and almost certainly the second youngest member of the British Army to serve abroad in World War One. Other researchers have taken an interest and there has been co-operation with Edward’s family members. This includes http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01vmmvb and great research by Garry at Swarm http://www.salfordwarmemorials.co.uk/edward-barnett.html.
Along the way I was able to help Ally Goodman with some information on Edward’s Service from his Medal Index Card. Ally is Edward’s great grandson featured with his sprightly grandmother – Edward’s daughter, Eveline Birch – in the BBC piece. Here’s some photos he was good enough to let me post on the site.
I find it a little daunting that boys were sent to the slaughter in France. My great uncle was 15 1/2 when he enlisted in the 6th Battalion and was discharged before overseas service. See Private Harold M. Brown 3929 That makes two lucky boys.