In the British naval forces, where there was a need to recruit enough hands to man the vast fleet of the British Empire, extensive regulations existed concerning the selection and status of boys enlisted to keep filling the ranks.
Various specific terms were introduced for different, age – and exam-related stages in a boy’s potential career:
Boy,as rated was aged between 15½ and 18. On a boy’s 18th birthday he automatically became rated as an ordinary seaman and was subject to the Naval Discipline Act as applicable to adult seamen.
Probably the rate Boy is best known for the bravery of Jack Cornwell or as he is better known Boy Cornwell who gave up his job as a delivery boy and enlisted in the Royal Navy, without his father’s permission.
He is remembered for his gallantry and death at the age of only 16 at the Battle of Jutland, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded
The recommendation for his citation from Admiral David Beatty, reads:
“The instance of devotion to duty by Boy (1st Class) John Travers Cornwell who was mortally wounded early in the action, but nevertheless remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders till the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded around him. He was under 16½ years old. I regret that he has since died, but I recommend his case for special recognition in justice to his memory and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him.”
COURSE OF AMMUNITION FOR BOYS 1915
The aim of this course was to teach boy seamen to know the classes of ammunition and stores by sight, their use and where they were to be found on a seagoing ship. With useful information concerning Magazines and Shell Rooms, prepare for War, and Clear for Action. Complete with Shell and Ammunition box marking plates in colour.