A Daring American Hero Concealed His Age To Fight In Both The Civil War And WWI

As many of us get older, we dream about the prospect of retirement. Forgetting about work, getting to do whatever we want with our time, traveling to our hearts’ content... But not John William Boucher. As a young man, he served bravely as a soldier in the American Civil War. But decades later, when World War I rolled around, Boucher wasn’t thinking about retirement. Instead, the veteran signed up to fight yet again, despite being in his 70s!

Telling a lie

Signing up to fight as a 70-something-year-old soldier is one thing, but actually being permitted to do so is quite another. How on Earth was this situation able to arise? Well, Boucher had been so determined to serve during World War I that he decided to resort to lying about his age. He told the people at the recruitment office that he was 48, which was the maximum age a person was allowed to be if they wanted to join.

The seasoned soldier

Incredible as it seems, Boucher’s lie did the trick. He was in pretty great shape for a man of his advanced years, which meant he passed his physical and was allowed to serve. With that, he was sent to Europe alongside his comrades. And when he got there, he worked hard. But the seasoned soldier was an old man now, and things didn’t go entirely smoothly. It’s hardly a surprise, but exhaustion and illness eventually found him.

A remarkable story

All told, Boucher’s story is a remarkable one. Simply being alive during both the Civil War and World War I is noteworthy, but the fact he actually saw action in both conflicts is just mind-bending. There are surely very few figures who could say the same: there were 53 years between the two wars! But it seems there was no stopping Boucher when his mind was set on something.

A Canadian boy

Despite fighting for the Union side during the Civil War, Boucher wasn’t even from America. He was born in its northern neighbor, back when Canada was still a colony of Britain. He came into the world at the end of 1844 in the province of Ontario. His parents, it’s been reported, had been all in favor of British rule, right up until his dad’s death in 1850 or so. After that loss, the young Boucher was sent away from home to receive his education at boarding school.