Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1941, Reginald “Reggie” Hamilton Earnshaw, cabin boy with the Merchant Navy, became the youngest British serviceman to be killed in action in the second world war.
When he was twelve years old his family had moved from Yorkshire to Edinburgh, where he attended Bellevue School. He joined the Merchant Navy in February of 1941, giving his age as fifteen, the youngest age for recruitment.
Reggie was serving on S.S. North Devon off the coast of Norfolk when she came under fire from German bombers and sank. He was killed along with five other crew members. Buried in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh, his story (and his real age) did not come to light until a former shipmate, Alf Tubb, by then in his early 80s, decided to find out what had happened to his friend. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission provided a granite headstone for his grave, which is in the Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh. His sister chose the inscription: “Remembered with pride. Greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life”.
Reggie, born in Dewsbury in Yorkshire, was 14 years old.