'Boy soldiers' to march at Currumbin on Anzac Day
OUT of the 42 Australians who went to fight in World War II before they turned 16, only 19 remain.
The Under Sixteens, sometimes known as the 'boy soldiers', signed up by forging signatures, lying to their parents, or taking on the names and birthdates of brothers and uncles.
William John Steinhauer was the youngest, at only 13-and-a-half.
Under Sixteens group patron Jennifer Ballard said, after the boys had endured the horrors of war, their difficulties were compounded by the fact that they had missed all their high school years and were virtually uneducated - and deemed by many business owners as unemployable.
"No pat on the back or social welfare in those days," Jennifer said.
For the first time, on Anzac Day, the Under Sixteens will attend a ceremony at Currumbin Surf Lifesaving Club.
"This year has brought to light the fact that, sadly, there is no one left able to march in Sydney," Jennifer said.
"Distance and failing health have contributed to a decision to find a venue close to where the majority of the remaining veterans now live.
"For these very special veterans, it was of great comfort to finally meet someone who understood the nightmares and enormous difficulties which pursued them after the war.
"Anzac Day is extremely important for these and so many other veterans of many wars.
"Words are not needed. A handshake or a shoulder squeeze is enough to convey an unspoken and powerful understanding."They saw their mates die; they were taken prisoner. They were bombed, torpedoed, beaten, gassed and wounded. They never gave up.
"They were proud to fight for Australia, king and country, and all it stood for."The Anzac Day Dawn Service will be held at Elephant Rock, Currumbin, from 5am with the parade assembling at 4pm on Tuesday, April 25.There is also a mid-morning service at the Currumbin RSL Cenotaph.
Visit www.worldwar2under16s.com for details of the 'boy soldiers'.