Author Topic: Too Young to Die - Canada's Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World  (Read 335 times)

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Offline Rifleman62

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Electronic version available. Link has tabs re Author (JOHN BOILEAU is a retired Canadian army colonel and author of twelve books and 500 articles) and Look Inside. Jim Parks, RWpgRif is one of "The Boys".

http://www.lorimer.ca/adults/Book/2915/Too-Young-to-Die.html

Too Young to Die - Canada's Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War

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
Available from:

Lorimer  http://www.lorimer.ca/adults/Book/2915/Too-Young-to-Die.html
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Never Congratulate Yourself In Victory, Nor Blame Your Horses In Defeat - Old Cossack Expression

Online jollyjacktar

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  • My uncle F/Sgt W.H.S. Buckwell KIA 14/05/43 22YOA
My dad served with a 16 year old kid who was killed in Italy.
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline Michael O'Leary

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    • The Regimental Rogue
I read Boileau and Black's first book on this subject "Old Enough to Fight; Canada's Boy Soldiers in the First World War." I found it to be a not very in-depth examination of the social and cultural conditions that contributed to underage volunteers. The emphasis seemed to be primarily on the simple fact of their youth, meshing with the modern tendency to visualize a modern 15-year-old somewhere in Mom's basement playing video games as the same "boy" being made to soldier.

After reading "Old Enough to Fight," I jotted the following comment on the endpaper: "17% of the book's content is dedicated to the single battalion of Newfoundlanders. Nfld was not part of Canada at the time. No Canadian unit received anywhere near the same attention." (Newfoundland, perhaps, could have had their own dedicated section to include them but also to address their unique situation.)

In comparison, I found Richard van Emden's "Boy Soldiers of the Great War" to be a much more detailed work, going into a thorough examination of the social and cultural background and also how the changing regulations affected the likelihood of young soldiers making it through the recruiting process and getting to a front line unit as the war progressed.

Offline Rifleman62

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What did you think of Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918 by Richard Holmes? I found the book had
Quote
in-depth examination of the social and cultural conditions
, changes in the UK. Was surprised to read about the unemployment and depressions prior to the war.
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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I thought Holmes' "Tommy" was well worth the read. It provided a lot of depth to the story of the BEF rather than just looking at the battlefield actions.

This excerpt from the Introduction sticks with me, and reinforces the understanding that much of our "common knowledge" about the Great War (and others) are based on the retelling of the same themes year after year, without critical re-examination:

Quote
But the interviewing of veterans in the 1970s and beyond concentrated, as it had to, on those who had survived. Like accounts written long after the events they describe, interviews with survivors inevitably reflect the past through the prism of the present. .... Sometimes survivors played their roles too well: they became Veterans, General Issue, neatly packed with what we wanted to hear, exploding at the touch of a tape-recorder button or the snap of a TV documentarist’s clapper-board. Up to my neck in muck and bullets; rats as big as footballs; the sergeant major was a right *******; all my mates were killed. And sometimes, just sometimes, they tell us this because they have heard it themselves.

So we should be extra cautious about how we use and interpret oral history and other non-contemporary evidence. It is often far too late-recorded oral history: occasionally forgotten voices tell us about imaginary incidents.