age limit


Book Reviewer
Rear party normally means Guard Duty - day on, day off. Have fun!!
You can be sent into theatre at the discretion of your Commanding Officer before reaching the grand age of 18. You will be restricted to being a blanket-stacker, tea-boy and gofa though. You will not be allowed out on patrol or on camp guard duties. This practice was quiet common in Northern Ireland.
Unless things have changed dramatically in the recent past personnel under the age of eighteen are not allowed to serve 'in theatre' in any capacity, this stems from the early 1970s when three members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers (two of them brothers and two of the trio under eighteen) were murdered execution style by PIRA in Ligoniel. Prior to that soldiers under eighteen served wherever their unit was deployed.
Sorry to differ, Busterdog but we had loads of under 18's in Derry from '81 to '83 - including West of the Foyle in Fort George. They were used as tea-boys & gofas across the water but trained as normal when in Ebrington.
...and just for the historical angle, although they did deploy in 1939, underage members of the BEF were sent back to the UK when the von Rundstedt & Bock travelling circus reached France & the low countries in late May 1940.
I have the reference somewhere, but I seem to recall that a 17 year old Para was killed during the Falklands War.
Fallschirmjager said:
We also had a few blokes under 18 on Telic 1. They weren't allowed to carry out operational duties and were just dogs bodies in camp.
I'll second that!

Once the reporters were fed up filming bombs landing they moved onto 'boy' soldiers in the battlefield; it was in a few papers at the time. Forced MOD to review policy.


Book Reviewer
ISTR something in the last few years from the UN(?) outlawing the use of 'child soldiers'. Since then we have not deployed under 18s into combat. They can be deployed to theatre, but not actually used for combat duties (including, I think, Guard Duties).
If U18s were in theatre on Op TELIC then they were there illegally.

The current MOD policy is very straightforward: Nobody under the age of 18 is allowed into an operational thatre - for any reason.

There was the exception that those Battalions serving as Northern Ireland Resident Battalions were allowed to have their U18s in their main barrack locations, but they were not allowed to conduct any type of operations at all - including guard duties.

There is, however, no reason why the U18 is not deployed to theatre on his/her 18th birthday - something which has been a bit of a rude shock for a few in the past!
As gallowglass pointed out, there was a 17 year old Para killed in the Falklands.

There is also a 16 year old Para buried in the Ranville cemetary in Normandy.
gallowglass said:
I have the reference somewhere, but I seem to recall that a 17 year old Para was killed during the Falklands War.
Have the reference (p.34 & 227 Razor's Edge - The Unofficial History of the Falklands War by Hugh Bicheno)- it was a Pte. Burt (3 Para) on Mount Longdon, killed following Sgt. Ian McKay VC. He was the youngest soldier to die on either side.

Wasn't there also a degree of media attention focused on a 17 year-old Scots Guardsman during the First Gulf War?

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