PRIVATE ROLAND THOMAS WHITEHORN
28TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 17
BURIED: WIMEREUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
There are several puzzling things here. Firstly, despite what his father put on his headstone, I don't think Roland Whitehorn was 17 when he died. In fact I'm sure he wasn't as his birth is recorded in the second quarter of 1898. This would mean he was 19 when he died in October 1917.
I came across a story on a family history site, which said that Whitehorn's wife brought their six-week-old daughter to visit him in hospital in France before he died. I thought this unlikely if he was only 17 when he died, even though you could legally be married at 16. The records show that he married Elizabeth Collins in the second quarter of 1916, at which time he would have been 18. It's not unlikely that his wife was allowed to visit him. It wouldn't have been possible if he had been in a Casualty Clearing Station closer to the front but Roland Whitehorn was in one of the base hospitals near Boulogne and the authorities did allow next-of-kin to visit. Perhaps the 'Age 17' on his headstone refers to how old Roland Whitehorn was when he enlisted.
His brother, Albert John Whitehorn, was also very young when went to war. His medal card shows that he qualified for the 1915 Star having entered France on 19 March 1915. He'd been born in the fourth quarter of 1896 so that means he was 18. Albert Whitehorn died of wounds two months later on 11 May. But there's something strange here too: Albert served under an alias, he called himself Albert Whitehall. Was this because at 18 he would have needed parental permission to serve abroad and he didn't believe his parents would grant it?
Albert Whitehorn's inscription in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery is identical to his brother's except for the age:
Age 18. Died for
His King and Country
With his brother