MEMORY LANE: The mystery of the 14-year-old Canadian soldier

Not only was Lyman Elroy Robbie among the last casualties of the Great War to be buried at Buxton, he was certainly the youngest...or was he?

Thursday, 7th August 2014, 4:00 pm
Lyman Elroy Robbie, a farmer from Truro, Nova Scotia, volunteered on March 31, 1916, claiming to be aged 18, but seems to have been only 14 as his grave records him as being only 17 when he died in 1919.

When he volunteered in March 1916 he swore he was aged 18-and-a-half, but when he died almost exactly three years later his grave at Buxton Cemetery recorded him as being only 17.

So was he really only 14-years-old when he joined up?

We’ll probably never know for certain. His enlistment papers do show that despite being a farmer he was only a slight lad of five foot six and nine-and-a-half stone.

Coming from a small rural community in Nova Scotia, Canada, to a Europe consumed in such a terrible war must have been a tremendous shock for him.

A second mystery is that he died five months after the armistice.

Was he a victim of the great Spanish flu epidemic that swept the world, or did he lose a long struggle with wounds sustained in battle?