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History World War Ii

Too Young to Die

Canada's Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War

by (author) John Boileau & Dan Black

foreword by John de Chastelain

James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2016
World War II, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price

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John Boileau and Dan Black tell the stories of some of the 30,000 underage youths -- some as young as fourteen -- who joined the Canadian Armed Forces in the Second World War. This is the companion volume to the authors' popular 2013 book Old Enough to Fight about boy soldiers in the First World War. Like their predecessors a generation before, these boys managed to enlist despite their youth. Most went on to face action overseas in what would become the deadliest military conflict in human history.

They enlisted for a myriad of personal reasons -- ranging from the appeal of earning regular pay after the unemployment and poverty of the Depression to the desire to avenge the death of a brother or father killed overseas. Canada's boy soldiers, sailors and airmen saw themselves contributing to the war effort in a visible, meaningful way, even when that meant taking on very adult risks and dangers of combat.

Meticulously researched and extensively illustrated with photographs, personal documents and specially commissioned maps, Too Young to Die provides a touching and fascinating perspective on the Canadian experience in the Second World War.

Among the individuals whose stories are told:

  • Ken Ewing, at age sixteen taken prisoner at Hong Kong and then a teenager in a Japanese prisoner of war camp
  • Ralph Frayne, so determined to fight that he enlisted in the army, navy and Merchant Navy all before the age of seventeen
  • Robert Boulanger, at age eighteen the youngest Canadian to die on the Dieppe beaches

About the authors

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.

John Boileau's profile page

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.

Dan Black's profile page

GENERAL JOHN de CHASTELAIN is a former Chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Armed Forces and an ambassador to the United States.

John de Chastelain's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Dan Black has again brought to life the stories of underage soldiers, sailors and airmen.
To track down underage soldiers, Black and Boileau delved into the personnel files of soldiers, sailors and airmen; more specifically, the estate branch form... Too Young to Die tells the chronology of the Second World War."

Inside Ottawa Valley

"In Too Young to Die, the authors do an exemplary job of ensuring reliability to the young men...
Through Too Young to Die remains a fact-based, non-fiction work, both Boileau and Black are able to keep the attention of the reader due to the accessibility of the tales being told."

The Chronicle Herald

"Too Young to Die, by John Boileau and Dan Black, provides an exhaustive account of the lads, some as young as 14, who bluffed their way into the Canadian armed forces during the Second World War. They lied about their age or borrowed an older brother's identity, puffed-up their often scrawny chests and signed on the dotted line.
The work provides in-depth accounts of how underage Canadians made their way to war, fought and, in many cases, died for their country, despite not being old enough to vote."

Atlantic Books Today

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