The Lost Boys: The untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War
By Paul Byrnes
Published by Affirm Press
RRP $45.00 in hardcover | ISBN 9781925870503
Paul Byrnes first became interested in the fate of the thousands of boys across Australia and New Zealand who lied about their age, forged a parent’s signature and left to fight on the other side of the world when he was researching another project on the Western Front in 2017.
He discovered the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour of 170 under-age soldiers from World War I.
It’s hard to imagine now the eagerness of many young boys to enlist and the indifference from military authorities to the under age boys they knew were in the ranks.
It was only later that public opinion turned against them as casualties began to mount.
Byrnes has undertaken no small task in researching and writing this beautifully-presented book and relating the stories of some of the doomed boys who never got the chance to grow old.
It’s a deeply moving and poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war and especially the sacrifice of youth.