Youngest WWI British soldier was just 13 when he fought in Battle of the Somme
Britain’s youngest First World War fighter was just 13 when he saw action in Battle of the Somme, after he tricked officers and comrades into believing he was 18.
Sidney Lewis was 12-years-old when he enlisted, spending 10 months training with the East Surrey Regiment before he was sent into battle as a machine gunner on the Western Front.
During WWI the British Army recruited 250,000 boys under the age of 18, many of whom lied about their age so they could fight for king and country.
The Imperial War Museum confirmed Sidney was Britain’s youngest soldier, who fooled comrades and offices that was over 18 because ‘he was a big boy, from a family of big boys’.
Almost a million soldiers died in Somme but Sidney survived after a family friend recognised him on the front and told his mother where he was.
She complained to the War Office and he was discharged immediately, returning to his childhood.
However, on his 18th birthday he reenlisted again.
His son Colin described how decades later the rest of the family didn’t believe Sidney when he said he fought in the Great War.
Colin said: ‘He did not talk much about the war and we thought he was making it up because we all thought that he would have been too young to have been there.