The photo above was first published in the Navy & Army Illustrated in its issue dated 21st August 1896. The caption underneath the photo reads, "The oldest and youngest soldiers of the battalion".
Further down it is explained that Sergeant-Major Jepson and Private Stapleton had 22 years' and 21 years' service respectively, whilst Boy Stokes had less than six months' service.
There are at least six boys in this photo and at least three of the soldiers (including Jepson and Stapleton, presumably) have four good conduct chevrons on their lower right sleeve whilst three soldiers have three chevrons each. So who were these youngsters and old hands? I thought I'd try and find out.
Sergeant Major Jepson
This man is possibly Charles William Jepson who would later become Lieutenant & Quartermaster and would serve in the Boer War.
No convincing match identified
5107 William Edward Stokes, born around November 1881 and enlisted in London on the 30th March 1896 aged 14 years and 4 months. Discharged as a lance-corporal in March 1908 on the termination of his first period of engagement.
These boys may also appear in the photo.
5085 John Frederick Barlow, born around September 1880 and enlisted in Manchester on the 6th March 1896 aged fifteen years and six months. Discharged June 1897, services no longer required.
5111 William Foster, joined 6th April 1896 aged 14 years and 4 months (about the same age as William Stokes). Discharged July 1898, services no longer required.
5141 Walter Ezekiel Adams, joined in London in May 1896 aged fifteen years and six months. Discharged medically unfit in October 1898. This boy joined later than Stokes but Stokes was younger than Adams.
5157 George Millwood, joined in London on the 13th June 1896 aged fifteen years and seven months. Discharged in June 1908 on the termination of his first period of engagement.
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