The Youngest RecruitsPatriotism and the desire to fight for King and Country gripped the men and boys of Yarmouth Town and County during World War I. Between 1914 and 1918 some sixteen hundred would enlist.During 1915 and 1916 recruiting meetings were common in various places in the Town and County. The age limit for recruits was 18 (later 19) and 45; however, there were many incidents of recruiting centres turning a blind eye to those who did not meet age requirements. An estimated 20,000 under-age soldiers eventually enlisted and about 2,000 were killed overseas. Some ninety-seven under-age boys between the ages of fourteen and seventeen enlisted from the Yarmouth area. The youngest among these were three fourteen year old boys. Edward Comeau was the youngest, born January 31, 1901. He enlisted at Yarmouth with the 112th Battalion on December 21, 1915. James (Jimmy) William Muise, born February 27, 1901 also enlisted with 112th Battalion at Yarmouth on February 18, 1916. James Albert Higby, born on November 30, 1900 enlisted at Sussex, New Brunswick on August 25, 1915. Edward Comeau and James (Jimmy) Muise were both five feet, three inches in height, the minimum height for enlistment. James Higby, the first of the three to enlist was five feet, five and one-half inches in height. All three would complete training and sail for England. Edward and Jimmy Muise would sail from Halifax on the SS Olympic arriving in Liverpool, England on July 31, 1916. James Higby crossed to England earlier with the 64th Battalion, arriving in Liverpool on April 9, 1916.All three would serve in France before military authorities became aware of their ages. Jimmy Muise serving in France with the Royal Canadian Regiment was gassed during battle; Edward, also serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment suffered an accidental gun shot wound to his hand while serving with a working party in La Chaudière, France. During their time in various convalescence hospital their real ages were determined. James Higby’s actual age was not discovered until July 29, 1918. Jimmy Muise and Edward Comeau were returned to Canada and discharged as minors; James was returned to Canada on November 28, 1918 and discharged at Halifax as part of the demobilization. All three served in France, in battle and all three served with very good conduct and character. During their time as soldiers, Jimmy would add three inches to his height, Edward two inches, and James Higby one-half inch. Fourteen year old boys when they enlisted but they returned as men, and lived their lives as veterans of the First World War.
The Youngest RecruitsYarmouth - World War I
Yarmouth, NS Train Station: Seeing the recruits off to war