Private Sidney Lewis

person

Britain's Youngest Soldier in WW I

Sidney Lewis, enlisted with the East Surrey Regiment in August 1915, five months after his 12th birthday, and was fighting on the Somme by the age of 13. But within weeks he was ordered home to his mother, Fanny Lewis, in south London, after she told officials he was too young to fight and should be sent back. The Imperial War Museum declared Private Lewis the youngest fighting soldier after examining papers provided by his son, Colin, the papers included Sidney's birth certificate and letters from the War Office to his mother promising he would be sent home immediately.

A telegram sent from the officer in charge of records at the Machine Gun Corps on 24 August 1916 where Sidney had been transferred read: 'Madam, your application on behalf of your son, and birth certificate, have been forwarded here by the War Office and I have to inform you that action has been taken and the lad will be discharged with all possible speed.'