15 Year Old Recruits Among the some ninety-seven under-age boys aged fourteen through seventeen that enlisted from the Yarmouth area were six fifteen year old boys. Each of the six had a unique story of wartime experience as part of the Canadian military. Five would return, some having suffered the injuries of war. One would not return, lost fighting in the trenches in France, his name memorialised among the thousands listed on memorials of those who died fighting for King and Country. John Russell Burns was the youngest, born March 3, 1900. He enlisted at Yarmouth with the 112th Battalion, giving his date of birth as March 3, 1898. He was student, an only son, and at 5 feet, 7 inches may have appeared to be eighteen years old. John Burns would serve with the 25th Battalion in France. Unlike the other fifteen year old boys he was not wounded and was returned to Canada and discharged as a minor on January 7, 1918. Gordon Keith Robinson from Brazil Lake, was born on May 4, 1900, but listed his year of birth as 1898 on his attestation form. He enlisted with the 112th on January 24, 1916 at Yarmouth. While serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment in France he was hospitalized after being gassed. His actual age was discovered and he was eventually returned to Canada and discharged on April 14, 1919. Gordon Robinson would also serve in World War II, enlisting in 1939 and serving until his discharge May 19, 1945.Douglas Munroe Reid was from Yarmouth, born September 29, 1899. He enlisted in Sussex, New Brunswick on August 23, 1915 with the 64th Battalion. His attestation paper gave his date of birth as 1897. He was transferred to the 25th Battalion and served in France. In January 1917 he suffered a gun shot wound and was discharged to a convalescent hospital. The superficial wound healed and he returned to the field; however, he later began ill and was hospitalized again. The military, advised that his birth year was 1900, returned him to Canada in November 1918. The Birth Registry of NS gives his date of birth as 1899. On March 24, 1916, Frank Gus Hubbard of Tusket, Yarmouth Co., born January 12, 1901, enlisted with the 112th Battalion giving his date of birth as November 12, 1898 on his attestation form. He served with the Royal Canadian Regiment in France and was gassed on August 31, 1917. In May of 1918 his actual birth year was discovered and he was transferred to the Nova Scotia Regiment Depot at Bramshott and to the Young Soldier Battalion. He was returned to Canada on August, 16 1918 and discharged at Halifax on December 20, 1918.Born in Yarmouth, but living in New Brunswick, Melbourne Joseph Doucette enlisted with the 165 Battalion in April 1914 at Moncton, NB. The military recognized he was under-age and while he was only 4 feet, 10 inches in height, accepted him with the Battalion in Canada; however, he was discharged September 28, 1916. He re-enlisted at the age of eighteen on April 23, 1918 and served in Canada until he was demobilized in April, 1919. Donald Lawrence Morine was born in Bear River, NS but lived in Yarmouth from the age of ten, after the death of his parents. He enlisted with the 64th Battalion in Sussex, New Brunswick on September 3, 1915 giving his date of birth as September 6, 1897. He was 5 feet 3 inches in height meeting the minimum requirement for enlistment. He served in France with the 26th Battalion and was killed in action on September 29, 1916 he was killed in action while serving in the trenches, north east of Courcelette. His body was not recovered and he is listed on the Vimy Memorial in France. It was not discovered that he enlisted at 15 until after his death. Once the actual dates of birth were discovered by the military four of the six fifteen year old soldiers were returned to England and discharged to Canada. For Gordon Robinson, Douglas Reid, and Frank Hubbard, hospitalization from injury led to the discovery of their actual age. John Burns was not injured; however, once his age was determined that of a minor he was removed from the battlefield. Melbourne Doucette served in Canada as a fifteen year old for six months before being discharged as a minor; however, he would re-enlist and serve one year after his eighteenth birthday in Canada.Donald Morine would die in battle at the age of 17. He is the youngest casualty listed on the Yarmouth War Memorial. On February 18, 1916 there were six under-age boys that managed to enlist with the 112th. One was fourteen year old, James (Jimmy) William Muise, and like John Burns, he was also a student. Three were sixteen, Frank Muise of Quinan, George Muise of Amirault’s Hill, and James Louis Muise of Yarmouth.Recruitment by the 112th Battalion was intensive. One recruitment meeting was held in the Royal Opera Hall in February 1916. The audience filled the seats and the corridors. A squad of 112th men were on the platform. Lieutenant Colonel Seeley acted as chairman and spoke very pointedly on recruiting matters addressing the meeting for one hour. Those attending listened attentively and the band supplied music which added to the success of the meeting. That night sixteen young men responded to the call to enlist, among them George Muise, and Louis Amiro both aged 16.
15 Year Old Recruits Yarmouth - World War I
Yarmouth, NS Train Station: Seeing the recruits off to war