Henry Thomas Emptage lied about his age when he enlisted at only 16. He had already lost both his parents and no doubt saw a life in the Army as a way out of poverty and an opportunity for travel and excitement and it may have helped him deal with an very tragic personal life. His career in the army saw him serve in two wars before being called up to serve again at the outbreak of WW1.
Descended from a long line of mariners, George William Emptage joined the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday. In civilian life he became a postman but when war was declared in 1814, he transferred from the Naval Reserves to active service.
Throughout his short life George William Emptage suffered from what we would now describe as learning difficulties, however this didn’t prevent him from enlisting for what turned out to be a very brief military career.
William Alfred Emptage was 18 when he enlisted in the 3rd Battalion of The East Kent Regiment “The Buffs” in 1900, following his brother Henry Emptage who had joined in 1897. They both saw action in South Africa in the second Boer War. William transferred to the Royal Horse Artillery in 1902. In 1914, by then a reservist, William was one of the first to be called up at the outbreak of war.
Like many of his generation, Charles Frederick Emptage lied about his age when he enlisted in 1909, probably to escape the poverty many of people in England suffered. He saw service in Singapore and India and on the outbreak of war in 1914 he returned to England and was posted to Belgium early in 1915.
Sydney was a law clerk in Margate and was great friends with his older cousin, Herbert George Robins who lived and worked in South Africa. He jumped at the chance when Herbert asked him to join him in South Africa, to help run his game reserve. However, as the war in Europe progressed, he joined the Royal Engineers Signal Unit.