Have been trying for a while to find the military service records for my great grandfather – Alexander Cruden. I know he fought in World War I, and was wounded, but haven’t yet been able to find out when he enlisted, when and where he fought, etc. However, the other day I discovered that prior to enlisting during the war he – briefly – joined the Black Watch Regiment. Apparently in 1906 he signed up, but was discharged 15 days later when they found out he’d lied about his age. He was sixteen.
From the enlistment papers, I discovered that he was five foot two (so that’s where the “short” genes come from) and a coal miner (guess that made the army seem attractive).
I have never heard this story told within the family, but wondered what would have happened if there had been a war on at the time and the army had turned a blind eye to his youth. Obviously I wouldn’t be here; within 18 months of that first failed attempt at being a soldier, Alexander Cruden became a father – to my grandmother. His actual military service, which cost him a leg, didn’t take place until he was in his twenties, and a father of two.