Too Young to Die. That’s the title of the second volume in Dan Black and John Boileau’s book series on underage Canadians in the World Wars. Much like in the First World War, boys as young as fourteen sought to do their bit in the war against the dictators of the 1930s and 1940s. In a war that spanned the world, underage Canadian servicemen (and women) served in the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Merchant Navy. The war was an opportunity to learn new skills, earn an income, and foster new relationships that would last a lifetime. Sadly, many boy servicemen perished. Others survived. All were changed by their experiences.
Speaking of youth serving in the war, many of the veterans alive today were among the youngest to hit the beach in 1944. Please consider making a donation in support of our GoFundMe campaign to bring Canadian veterans to Juno Beach for next year’s 75th anniversary of D-Day.
3:05 How Underage Service Resonates with Canadians
3:40 Comparing the First and Second World War Experiences
5:25 Age Restrictions on Service in the Second World War
8:42 Joining Up: Strategies Adopted by Underage Recruits
10:00 Motivations for Service: The World These Adolescents Grew Up In
11:54 Challenges to Researching a Topic When the Subjects Lie About Their Ages
13:30 The Reality of War Sinks In
15:03 Estimating the Number of Underage Servicemen
18:30 Denis Chisholm (The Regina Rifle Regiment)
19:05 Ralph Frayne (Army, Merchant Navy, HMCS Haida)
19:58 Gordon Hovey (Merchant Navy)
20:34 Underage Servicewomen
21:20 Underage Discovery in the Ranks
25:30 Multiple Generations Serving: Herbert & Donald Fowler
28:21 Boy Soldiers with 14th Field Regiment: Bill Chitty and Bob Muir
32:55 Fighting the Hitler Youth in Normandy
34:25 Gérard Doré: The Youngest Canadian Killed in Normandy (Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal)
35:35 Barney McGuigan (The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment)
36:10 Herbert (“Frank”) Danielson (The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada)
37:29 Reacting to the Death of a Loved One (Barney McGuigan)
42:05 Surviving Long Enough to Take the Lead
44:20 Kenneth Watson (HMCS Assiniboine)
46:27 The Loss of HMCS Shawinigan
48:20 How Wartime Changed Those Who Survived
50:10 Urgency to Preserve These Stories
Dan Black is the former editor of Legion Magazine. He has written and edited hundreds of articles on Canada’s military, past and present. He is a coauthor of Old Enough to Fight: Canada’s Boy Soldiers in the First World War and our subject, Too Young to Die: Canada’s Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War.
The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:
Weapons & Formations
Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.
Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlEvclY5LE&t=48s
Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCSQ4uWR1Y
Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/383:eileen-green-nee-short/
Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5wZtV1MWM
Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZI4tAoMN0
Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at email@example.com.