the Glorification of Adolescent Soldiers
It might be argued that Great War France exhibited a degree of patriotism bordering on the extreme, perhaps rightly or wrongly, but in any case to a degree otherwise unsurpassed in the 20th century. Everyone was expected to come to the aid of la Patrie, male and female, young and old. Harking back to a long tradition of warfare and hero adulation going back to the days of the Hundred Year's War and Joan of Arc, French writers and editors were not at all loath to extoll the virtues of French adolescents willing to take up arms against the invading Teutonic barbarians.
Many stories were printed in the newsmedia of heroic young boys (or girls as in the case of Emilienne Moreau, the Lady of Loos), who though too young to join the colors, fought against the Germans nonetheless, often giving their lives in the process. Some stories were undoubtedly true, others very difficult to verify. The 'Brave Boy Scout' story was recounted and illustrated many times to give but one example, the account apparently being based on a short German news item with no mention of name, date or locality. Many other tales involve French youngsters who, having lost their parents during the war, especially those in German occupied territory, join up with a passing army unit and become soldiers in fact, if not necessarily officialy.
But whether based on fact or on patriotically inspired fiction, such stories were recounted and printed in many forms and versions in countless books, magazines and newspapers, for both young and old. We show here a short collection of illustrations from a variety of publications dealing with the subject, as well as several English and French language texts, (almost) all from the period of 1914-1918
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