The Bantam Soldiers of WW1: The “Devil Dwarfs”

Men under 5’3” named Bantams after aggressive fowl

During WW1 the average height of a soldier was 5’6”. When men under 5’3” went to sign up at the recruiting office, they were rejected as too short. Many of these men were miners (an insanely tough job) and were outraged that they were forbidden to fight alongside their friends and comrades. A local MP changed this and petitioned the government to create the Bantam Battalion: an entirely vertically challenged battalion of men. At first being the brunt of many jokes, the Bantam Battalion became respected and the jokes stopped as these men proved themselves fierce, brave fighters. Nicknamed the “Devil Dwarfs” , about 30,000 of these men were killed in WW1. The smallest of them was Corporal Henry Thridgould who stood at 4’9”. Poet Issac Rosenburg was a Bantam soldier with his most recognized works “Poems from the Trenches”. He was killed in action.

“Each one a pocket Hercules, five feet and a bit, a kind of Bovril essence, of six feet British grit”---anonymous poem about the Bantam Battalions. Anyone who doubts the fighting ability of the small has clearly never encountered a Bantam rooster.

Valor is no respecter of size. It lives in you. Set it free.

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