Between 15,000 and 20,000 underage youths, some as young as ten, signed up to fight in Canada's armed forces in the First World War. They served in the trenches alongside their elders, and fought in all the major battles: Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, and the rest. Many were injured or suffered psychological wounds. Many died. This is the first book to tell their story.
Some boys joined up to escape unhappy homes and workplaces. Others went with their parents' blessing, carrying letters from fathers and mothers asking the recruiters to take their eager sons. The romantic notion of a short, victorious campaign was wiped out the second these boys arrived on the Western Front. The authors, who narrate the fighting with both military professionalism and humanity, portray many boys who, in the heat of battle, made a seamless transition from follower to leader to hero.
Authors Dan Black and John Boileau combed the archives and collections to bring these stories to life. Passages from letters the boy soldiers wrote home reveal the range of emotions and experiences they underwent, from the humorous to the unspeakably horrible. Their parents' letters touch us with their concern, love, uncertainty, and often, grief. Meticulously researched and abundantly illustrated with photographs, paintings, and a collection of specially commissioned maps, Old Enough to Fight is Canadian military and social history at its most fascinating.
About the authors
DAN BLACK has written and edited hundreds of articles on Canada's military, past and present. He is the former editor of Legion Magazine and the co-author of Old Enough to Fight: Canada's Boy Soldiers in the First World War and Too Young to Die: Canada's Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War, with John Boileau. Dan lives outside of Ottawa.
JOHN BOILEAU`s interest in Canadian history has been instrumental in his writing career which began after his retirement from the Canadian army in 1999. During his 37-year career in the forces he served in Canada, Germany, the United States, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. He was Consulting Editor for A Century of Service: Canada`s Armed Forces From the Boer War to East Timor, by Jim Lotz, published in 2000. His articles can be found in The Beaver, Legion Magazine, Saltscapes, the Halifax Sunday Herald and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal. He and his wife, Miriam, live on the shores of St Margaret`s Bay, NS.
Lieutenant-General Romeo Daillaire served thirty-five years with the Canadian Armed Forces and now sits in the Canadian Senate. His Governor General's Literary Award-winning book, Shake Hands With the Devil, exposed the failures of the international community to stop the Rwandan genocide. His second book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, exposed the increasing use of child soldiers, as he saw first hand in Rwanda. Dallaire has received numerous honours and awards, including Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. His activities continue to include work on genocide prevention, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the Child Soldier Initiative, which seeks to develop a conceptual base for the elimination of the use of child soldiers.
"The boys' backgrounds are fully developed, and their testimony is skilfully woven into the bloody battles and routine horrors of trench warfare. The human element extends the book's appeal to readers beyond those whose interest is primarily military... destined to be an immediate success."
Atlantic Books Today
"Dan Black, respected editor of Legion Magazine, and John Boileau, a retired army colonel and the author of ten books, tell the compelling story of Canada's war effort through these underage witnesses.... Perhaps the greatest strength of Old Enough to Fight is that these stories may resonate deeply with today's youth and help them connect with the war of one hundred years ago."
Canada's History Magazine
"Dan Black, respected editor of Legion Magazine, and John Boileau, a retired army colonel and author of 10 books, tell the compelling story of Canada's war effort through these underage witnesses.... Perhaps the greatest strength of Old Enough To Fight is that these stories may resonate deeply with today's youth and help them to connect with the war of one hundred years ago."
Canada's History Magazine
"Old Enough to Fight gives us a vivid picture of the intolerable conditions the combatants endured. The marvel is not that so many were killed or seriously wounded in mind or body, but that some many survived relatively unscathed. Old Enough to Fight is a horrifying thought-provoking book, suitable for reading as we commemorate all who have died in war."
"The authors include excerpts from the boys' letters home, which include vivid descriptions of trench warfare, battles, and the constant discomfort in which the soldiers lives. They were cold, wet, hungry, ill, and often lonely for home, and the letters make that plain."
Maritime Forces Atlantic Trident
"Old Enough to Fight grips the imagination by its vivid portrayal of the youngsters through whose eyes one sees unimaginable conditions on the Western Front."
Other titles by Dan Black
Other titles by John Boileau
Canada's Soliders in South Africa
Tales from the Boer War, 1899-1902
Amazing Atlantic Canadian Kids
Awesome Stories of Bravery and Adventure
Too Young to Die
Canada's Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War
Halifax and Titanic
Canada's Soldiers in South Africa
Tales from the Boer War, 1899-1902
Halifax and the Royal Canadian Navy
250 Years of Democracy in Nova Scotia
Historic Eastern Passage
Where the Water Meets the Land
Other titles by Romeo Dallaire
Waiting for First Light
My Ongoing Battle with PTSD
Collapse of a Country
A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan
How We Stopped Loving the Bomb
An insider's account of the world on the brink of banning nuclear arms
They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children
The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers
Religion in the Ranks
Belief and Religious Experience in the Canadian Forces
A Soldier's Memoir of Sarajevo Under Siege
Fortune Favours the Brave
Tales of Courage and Tenacity in Canadian Military History
Seeking the Sacred
Leading a Spiritual Life in a Secular World
Shake Hands with the Devil
The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda