The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys – the untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War, by Paul Byrnes

Despite a stinking hot day forecast for Thursday 21st November, a good number of Historical Society members and also Murchison RSL sub-branch members gathered at Murchison Heritage Centre to hear author Paul Byrnes tell us about his recently published book, The Lost Boys. The book recounts the circumstances surrounding these boys, who, as young as thirteen lied about their age, or forged their parent’s signature to gain permission to enlist and sadly died on the battlefields of the First World War.

Some 18 months ago, Paul was in touch with the Society, researching John Thomas Lyons for his book. John was a local 16 years old Murchison boy, the eldest child of the family of 11 children. His life was lost at Gallipoli aged only 17, the first casualty from the Murchison area, indeed, among the first Australians to lose their lives on Turkish soil.

The Historical Society was able to produce an attractive certificate and medals from our collection and the story of his keenness to enlist. With a friend he rode a bicycle to Sydney to join up, hoping to avoid objection from his parents, in which he succeeded.

Medallion – often call the dead man’s penny

The book relates the untold stories of Australian boys, as young as 13, who were keen to join the excitement and challenges of fighting in the war, none of them realising the horrors they would encounter. It explores their personal stories as to why they were so determined to enlist, how they were able to be accepted as fit and suitable to be a soldier when they were under-age. Paul brings alive these boys very poignant tales, their unique situations and the effect of their actions on their families in Australia.

Well worth a read to learn about this group of boys who have an exceptional place in our war history. Available in book shops in Shepparton and on-line.

Kay Ball, Murchison & District Historical Society

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