Benjamin was born on 21st December 1899, in Montrose, Forfar, Scotland to parents Isabella and John.
Recorded on the 1911 Scotland census, Benjamin was aged 11, the youngest of 3 boys and an older sister, all who lived at 11 Gindera Road with their widowed mother.
Upon the outbreak of war, he was obviously keen to join a service so attested to the Army for 4 years with the 5th (Reserve) The Black Watch on 15th January 1915, his form stating his apparent age was of 17 years, 1 month. He stood 5’5” tall and was noted as having “fair” development.
Army life was hard on this young teenager - in the space of 11 months during training Benjamin was reprimanded 8 times - from being absent or late to parade, talking in the ranks to leaving parade without permission. Finally though the knowledge of his actual age became apparent and he was discharged on 14th July 1916 “as having a mis-statement as to age on enlistment”
He quickly joined the Navy on 2nd August 1916 as a Boy 2nd Class, beginning training at HMS Powerful until 10th November 1916. He then transferred to HMS Ganges the following day, remaining there until 5th May 1917 - rising to Boy Telegraphist on 18 January 1917**.
Benjamin was assigned to HMS Vanguard just six weeks before she exploded. He was killed aged just 17.
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British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 WO364; Piece: 1215
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 760
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; 008 (1914 - 1919)
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Service Registers and Registers of Deaths and Injuries. Registers of Reports of Deaths
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 102