Armistice 100: Maxine Peake reads heartbreaking story of tragic Leeds boy soldier
The tragic story of a boy soldier who lied about his age to enlist with the Leeds Pals has been movingly told by actress Maxine Peake.
Horace Iles, from Woodhouse, was only 14 when he signed up to fight in World War One in the summer of 1914. He claimed he was 18. It is thought Horace may have wanted to emulate his father, William, who served in the second Afghan War.
Horace died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, aged just 16.
Stage and screen star Maxine Peake has made a video about the story for the Commonwealth War Graves commission social media pages.
The Theory of Everything star has read the moving letter Horace’s sister, Florrie, wrote to him at the Front, imploring him to confess his real age to his superiors so he could be sent back home.
The actress reads: “For goodness sake, Horace, tell them how old you are. I’m sure they will send you back if they know you are only 16.
“You have seen quite enough now just chuck it up and try to get back. You won’t fare no worse for it. If you don’t do it now, you will come back in bits - and we want the whole of you.’
It is signed ‘Your loving sister, Florrie (20 kisses)’.
But the real tearjerker is in the video’s postscript. Maxine Peake explains: “Several weeks later this letter was returned to Florrie, stamped ‘killed in action’.