Friday, February 5, 2010

Youngest Known British Service Casualty in World War II

The British government has confirmed the identity of the youngest British service casualty of WWII. Fourteen-year-old Reginald Earnshaw lied about his age and joined the Merchant Navy in 1941. He was killed in 1941 by a German attack on his ship the SS North Devon.

From the Washington Post:
Now, on what would have been his 82nd birthday, Reginald Earnshaw's sad place in history has finally been acknowledged.

On Friday, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission officially recognized him as the youngest known British service casualty in World War II.

The lad lived just 14 years and 152 days. He died when German planes attacked the SS Devon, the ship he was on, off the east coast of England on July 6, 1941. He had only served for several months.

Officials had been slow to recognize his status because they did not have official proof of his date of birth, making it impossible to prove he was actually younger than Raymond Steed, who died at 14 years and 207 days.

Earnshaw was serving as a Merchant Navy cabin boy when he died. He had told authorities he was 15, the minimum allowable age, after leaving school to help with the war effort....

He had laid in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh for decades, and little was known about his case until a surviving shipmate, machine gunner Alf Tubb, spent several years trying to find out what had happened to the young man he served with.


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