Youngest WWII casualty in British service officially recognized

Grave found in Scotland after lengthy search

The youngest person to die as a British service casualty in World War II was officially recognized last Friday,  Feb. 5 in a special ceremony at a Scotland cemetery.

An AP story noted that Reginald Earnshaw was 14 years and 152 days old when he died during a German attack by plane on  the S.S. Devon, off the east coast of England on July 6, 1941.

He had lied to gain entry into the service, and had only served a few months at the time of his death as a Merchant Navy cabin boy on the ship.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh, Scotland, and likely would not have been found had it not been for a surviving shipmate who spent several years searching. Complicating the search was the fact that the war graves commission was never told where Earnshaw was buried.

The AP article noted that officials were slow to recognize Earnshaw’s status because they did not have official proof of his date of birth. His sister, Pauline Harvey, a 77 year old retired school teacher, came forward with the proof after the war graves commission made a nationwide appeal for information.

Previously, Raymond Steed was considered the youngest British service casualty in the WWII conflict at 14 years and 207 days of age.

During Friday’s ceremony Earnshaw’s sister placed flowers on her brother’s grave at Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland and met with relatives of other sailors who were killed in the same attack.

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