WE'VE heard some sad stories over the last few weeks about the Weymouth soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War.

All of these individual's stories have been shared because of the recent Armistice Centenary commemorations.

But here, today, we have an story to share of a teenage soldier who lied about his age in order to enlist. It's a story not without tragedy but overall an uplifting one about love and the indomitable human spirit.

So determined was this soldier to serve that he claimed to be 20, when he was in fact 16 and had to grow up fast - he returned from the frontline as a disabled veteran.

The teenage soldier concerned, Welsh-born William Henry Macey, was the grandfather of Bill Macey of Weymouth.

It was only though researching his family tree that Bill found out the true age of his granddad.

Bill tells us: "When William Henry enlisted in 1903 he claimed to be 20-years-old living with his parents; from his Army record he was said to be 10 stone and 5ft 7ins with a 34 inch chest.

"We thought he seemed slightly built for a 20-year-old and decided to carry out some research - eventually we discovered that William Henry Macey was only 16 years and five months old when he enlisted in Cardiff on January 20 1903 for a three year term with a further nine years in the Army Reserve."

William was a regular soldier from 1903 to 1911, serving in Hong Kong and on the India Station (Pakistan, Bangladesh hand Burma) and did a second term of service in India.

He arrived in Weymouth in 1907 as a soldier in the Royal Garrison Artillery. His hometown was Newport in Monmouthshire.

It was in Weymouth where William met the love of his life - Edith.

Bill tells us: "During my grandfather's time in Weymouth he met and married Edith Mary Rendall in 1908. The couple made their home in Newport. William went back to coal mining by mid 1914 and they had three children, William George, Mary Ellen and Samuel.

"Life was not too bad for them, but in August 1914 William Henry Macey was recalled to serve once more in the Royal Garrison Artillery."

Gunner W H Macey was part of a 9.2 inch Howitzer crew, this gun complete with its carriage weighed in at 41 tons and was pulled by a team of 12 draught horses or by a heavy tractor. With a high trajectory this gun operated at relatively short range, making the guns and their crews very vulnerable to enemy fire.

Bill said: "On June 18, 1915 my grandfather received a severe gunshot wound to the back and it was thought he would not survive. Edith was informed and William's personal effects were returned."

However, William did survive, but he was permanently disabled and discharged from service. He was issued with the King's Certificate and Silver War Badge to show that his disability resulted from active war service. He also received the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Allies Victory Medal.

William lived the rest of his life in London Military Hospital for disabled veterans; Edith and the couple's three children were granted a subsistence allowance.

Sadly because William needed special care in the hospital Edith and the children returned to Weymouth to live. She had three years of visiting her husband before she died aged just 33 in 1918 and a year later the couple's eight-year-old, Mary Ellen died. William Henry Macey died in February 1928.

Bill tells us: "He wasn't quite as old as 44, as stated on the death certificate, he was, as we now know, 41."

Thanks to Bill for sharing this remarkable story of the teenage soldier who came home after surviving the horrors of the Great War.