The slide bears no caption, but comes from a group of images which catch the patriotic fervour at the outbreak of war with Germany in 1914. The location is unclear, but the monument in the background, and the Geordie flat caps suggest that it might be Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Grey’s Monument). What is intriguing and disturbing about the image is the celebratory, carnival-like atmosphere; the marching men and boys blissfully unaware of the horrors which were to come over the next four years. How many of these became participants and victims of the conflict?
A young boy leads the parade, brandishing the union flag, followed by another beating time on an improvised cardboard box drum, and another in a paper hat. In the early stages of the war, prior to conscription, boys as young as 13 joined up for active service, often supplying false names. Recruitment officers turned a blind eye to this practice, even though the official minimum age for active service was 19.
Crafts Research Group Leader