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Ed Gilbert and Romain Cansiere
Underage enlistment
Thu Aug 3, 2017 15:59

was always a problem for all services. Through the mid-20th century men were smaller, with less difference in stature between teenagers and grown men. (A huge problem in filming 'Memphis Belle' was finding actors who could fit into a B-17.)

You could enlist at 17 with parental consent. Many parents were glad to have one less mouth to feed.

Boys used a variety of ways to skirt the age problem. In research for our next book First To Fight we ran across a lot of descriptions of how boys as young as 16 got in. Some were found out when they got to France, others were never found out.

The youngest I ever ran across enlisted in WW2 at 14. He went to the local Selective Service office on his birthday and told the clerk he was there to register. The clerk raised hell about him being late - you were supposed to register 2 weeks before your birthday. The angry clerk issued him a draft card, which he used to enlist.

  • The "Kids"godwintr, Thu Aug 3 09:25
    It is truly wonderful to see so many of these Marines coming home now. Most were so young at the time. I am researching Easy Co. 2/2 and so far the average age is 21 . That said, I found the... more
    • Underage enlistment — Ed Gilbert and Romain Cansiere, Thu Aug 3 15:59
      • Underage enlistmentgodwintr, Thu Aug 3 19:44
        Certainly statistically probable given over 15 million persons donned the uniform between 41 and 45. Nonetheless, still humbling to consider. They may have been small in stature but obviously large... more
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