John Lancelot Andrews enlisted in December 1916 to fight with the Australian Imperial Forces in World War 1. Within three months of enlistment he was a private in the Lewis Machine Gun Section of the 54th Battalion and encamped in England.1 He wrote several letters home to his mother and siblings while waiting to fight in France.2
John, otherwise known as ‘Jack’, was taking part in an offensive in Polygon Woods, Belgium in 1917, when he and several others in a trench were killed by the same shell. They died instantaneously and were buried where they fell. A grave marker was left with Jack’s full name and details.3
Jack’s story is sadly like many of the other tragic stories of World War 1, except for one difference, he was only 15 years and 11 months when he enlisted. He had inflated his age by three years. His death makes Jack one of the youngest Australian soldiers to die in WW1.4
The Wingham Museum now displays a number of Jack’s personal items including extracts of letters he sent home, photos, military disks and hand painted illuminated certificates.5
Author: Janine Roberts
Further information: Visit the Wingham Museum, 12 Farquhar Street, Wingham to view Jack’s personal items.
1 NAA: B2455, ANDREWS JL.
2 Wingham Museum collection.
3 NAA: B2455, ANDREWS JL. Letter written by Lieu. M H Carrick, France, 3 Oct 1917.
5 Wingham Chronicle, 9 April 2015, https://www.winghamchronicle.com.au/story/3000703/uncanny-coincidences-lead-to-boy-soldier-dedication/