The following is a press article which we have distributed to remind the public that the First World War had a huge impact on children and young people.
The Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), Scotland’s Armed Forces children’s charity, is asking people to remember the devastating effect World War 1 had on children and young people.
Sarah Rogers, Policy and Research Officer at RCET said: “As the nation marks the centenary of WW1, it’s important to reflect on the impact of the war on children and young people – many lost their lives during the conflict.”
It is estimated that approximately 250,000 boys and young men under the age of 19 fought in the war. Stories abound of recruitment officers turning a blind eye to boys and young men lying about their age in order to enlist.
A significant number of these boys and young men were killed or injured. In the Battle of the Somme for example, approximately 18,000 ‘boy soldiers’ died or were wounded.
Those killed in action include Aubrey Hudson who was 15 years and one month, Raphael Barnett who was 15 years and six months, and Valentine Joe Strudwick who died one month before his 16th birthday.
Sarah added: “It was not only boys and young men who experienced first-hand the horrors of war. There are stories of girls and young women lying about their age to join Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs). VADs undertook a range of voluntary work with women carrying out duties caring for large numbers of sick and injured soldiers throughout Britain and overseas in field hospitals.”
Many more children felt the impact at home. WW1 saw the biggest loss of fathers in modern British history with an estimated 500,000 killed in the conflict. Many of those who returned home to their families bore the mental and physical scars of war.
Throughout the war, children experienced disruption to their home life and education and faced challenges of coping with the emotional and practical impact of absent parents and the deaths and injuries of family and friends.
“In reflecting on the challenges faced by children during WW1, it’s important to remember that some of these continue to face children and young people in Armed Forces families today,” said Sarah. “Being part of an Armed Forces family can be a hugely rewarding experience, but it can also be tough with children and young people facing a range of challenges including coping with parental absence, high levels of mobility, disruption to education, and in some cases the injury or death of a parent.”
Founded over 200 years ago, the RCET seeks a world where all Scotland’s Armed Forces children can reach their full potential and it provides life-changing support to hundreds of Armed Forces children every year.