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.
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.
Alfred was born into a long line of mariners but, perhaps realising not only that it was a difficult life but also a dangerous one, he and his four brothers turned their back on the sea and sought other means of making a living.
An assurance agent in Margate, Thanet, Alfred rose to the position of a Vice President of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (pictured) in New York.
A difficult childhood and an army career in which he obtained three good conduct medals. But his conduct as a civilian was questionable, as one young lady was to find out. But was there a happy ending?
Family poverty following the death of his father when Walter was just one year old probably led to Walter joining the Royal Fusiliers Special Reserve in 1913 when he was 17 and served in World War I. His military career continued when Walter enlisted in the RAF in 1923, serving for four years, including in Palestine. And he was still young enough to serve in the army when war broke out again in 1939.
But life for Walter took a darker turn after the war.