An unknown footnote in my great grandad’s life

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.

2 thoughts on “An unknown footnote in my great grandad’s life

  1. Thanks. I’m finding that my family has kept very little in the way of documentary evidence of its past. It could be that until my generation there were lots more kids in each family, so heirlooms would quickly disappear if they ended up in a slightly different branch of the family. But I found out about my great grandad’s attempt to join the army from British Military records held at the National Archives. My mum, who was close to her grandad, knew nothing about it, and I can’t ask my grandmother or any of her siblings as they are all dead now.

    It’s stuff like this that makes my family history project more urgent – I want to collect and share everything I can about these remarkable people who lived through so much – before it’s too late.

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