'I'm 98 really but I'm 101 in the Army', says WW2 veteran, who lied about his age to join up

Watch: World War II veteran lied about his age to join the military

As the Second World War was raging, Robert Piper wanted to fight for his country but there was just one problem - he was three years too young.

Undeterred, young Mr Piper, now a Légion d'honneur recipient, deceived a recruitment officer into believing that he was 18 and joined up – at the age of just 15.

With a touch of humour, the veteran jokingly remarks: "I'm 98 really, but I am 101 in the Army."

The teenager joined the Royal Sussex Regiment before transferring to the Royal Signals. 

Initially, he went to a recruitment office to enquire about an apprenticeship with the Army but was told there weren't any.

During the Second World War, it became commonplace for boys as young as 14 to falsify their age, granting them the opportunity to fight alongside older soldiers.

Robert Piper joined the army aged 15 (Picture: The Royal Sussex Regment)
Robert Piper joined the Army at the age of 15 (Picture: The Royal Sussex Regment)

When asked about his age, he told the truth, saying that he was 15. The recruitment officer said he looked older and hinted that he would 'look the other way', if he asked to join up. 

Recalling this pivotal moment, Mr Piper revealed that he initially walked out of the recruitment office but then mustered the courage to take a "chance" and returned.

The recruitment officer, initially surprised to see Mr Piper back so soon, asked how he could help, to which 15-year-old Robert replied: "I'd like to join the Army." 

When asked again how old he was, the soon-to-be soldier replied '18', to which the officer said 'Right'. 

Soon after that, Mr Piper's service with the Royal Signals saw him being a wireless operator during the D-Day landings.

His service during the Second World War took him to Normandy, then to Belgium, Holland, and finally Germany.

The Légion d'honneur recipient was one of more than 2,000 veterans and their guests invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Duchess of Edinburgh on behalf of the Not Forgotten Association. 

The former teenage soldier says he's had a lifelong admiration for the Royal Family and served as an honour guard at the late Queen's 15th birthday.

The 98-year-old veteran believes the Royals play an essential role, for which there is "no alternative", and attributes this perspective to their significant military service, seeing them as extension of his own family.

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