WWI - For this Sydney family it was "on for young and old".
When Leonard Walter Jackson of Neutral Bay joined the AIF on the 6th of August 1915, he must have been one of the youngest Australians ever to enlist in our military services. Using the assumed name Richard Walter Mayhew, and claiming to be an 18 year old orphan, young Leonard, who was born on 27th August 1901, was actually 13 years 11 months and 10 days old on the day he "signed up".
Len's older brother, Harry Melville Jackson, had enlisted in the AIF in January 1915 and another brother, Dudley Jackson, also joined up in August 1915. When their father Joseph, a veteran of the Sudan campaign of 1885, realised what his 13 year old son had done, he took the unusual step of enlisting himself, to follow his young tear-away to Egypt and keep a watchful eye on him. Joseph, not surprisingly, also had to lie about his age - he claimed to be 44 years and 11 months old, when he was actually 52!
When the eldest of the Jackson boys, Harry, died whilst a prisoner of the Germans in August 1916, from wounds received at Pozieres, Joseph admitted to the military authorities that he was overage for active service, and that his son Leonard was serving without his parents' permission and was underage. (By this time, father and son had been serving side by side in the 55th Infantry Battalion since early 1916). To quote a letter written by Dudley Jackson MM in 1964, "[When my father] heard of my elder brother's death...he decided in fairness to my mother to go back to Australia." Both Joseph and Leonard were discharged, and returned to Australia aboard HMAT Ulysses in March 1917.
On 4th March 1918, 'Richard Walter Mayhew' again enlisted in the AIF, this time claiming his age was 21 years 3 months. A photograph of 'Richard' is held by the State Library of NSW.
Private records held in the Australian War Memorial's collection which were used to uncover the story of Leonard Walter Jackson, include 1DRL/0379 and 3DRL/3846. Relevant service records can be found online through the National Archives of Australia.