from the British newsmagazine

Penny Vivid War Weekly

January 23, 1915

 

 

WAR ITEMS FROM HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE

A boy of fourteen, named Gustave Chatain, is corporal in the 92nd Regiment of the French Army

 

The son of a market gardener, he was working in his father's field at Senlis, on August 9th, when the 92nd marched by. Throwing down his shovel, he fell in behind the soldiers, and managed to smuggle himself into the troop train which carried the regiment to the eastern frontier. The men began to look upon him as the child of the regiment, and finally a small uniform was made for him.

Near Fontenoy, on September 13th, he was walking in the road when a little girl ran up to him in, terror and told him that a number of German soldiers were in her mother's house.. Gustave returned to. the regimental headquarters, procured a rifle, bayonet and cartridges, and then followed the girl home.

Soon afterwards the comrades of the 92nd saw seven crestfallen Germans walk into the headquarters followed by their youthful captor, who had his rifle ready for any emergencies.

After that he was allowed to enlist in proper form. A day or two afterwards while out with a scouting party, he was shot in the shoulder, and sent to a hospital in Paris.

By October 8th he was well again, and reported himself to the regimental depot, where permission to return to the. front was refused him; But Gustave was determined to get back to the fighting at all costs, and hearing that a troop train was to leave in a few hours he hid himself in a cattle-truck and so found himself within sound of the guns again.

He reported himself to the colonel, who had not the heart to send him back, and Gustave was allowed to attach himself to one of the companies.

Three days later the regiment went into the trenches, and Gustave went with it. The order came to attack the first line of German trenches, and Gustave's company was one of the first to dash out into the fire-swept open. The trenches were occupied after a short fight, but at the moment of victory Gustave .was shot in the chest and at the same moment hurled several feet into the air by the explosion of a shell; breaking a number of ribs in his fall. In the hospital that evening his colonel came to him and promoted him corporal. "You are the second Little. Corporal of France," he said, "and the Army Is very proud of you.

 

A photo of a 15 year-old said to be Britain's youngest soldier
from a 1914 issue of a British magazine 'the Penny War Weekly'

 

a German boy-scout accompanying a regiment
from a Belgian magazine 'Le Temps Present'

 

 

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