According to Edward M Spiers' "The Late Victorian Army", the War Office experimented with the "recruiting age band" and set a recruiting age of nineteen to twenty five years from 1881 to 1883; when it was restored to eighteen to twenty five years. Of course, the difficulty for the Medical Officer undertaking a recruit's examination was whether the stated age corresponded with what he had in front of him. Doubtless, the official line was blurred on numerous occasions. Every enlistment paper I have seen has provision for a signature and usually the handwriting was good to excellent.
Standards of literacy amongst soldiers of the Victorian era appear to be the subject of some dispute. By 1889, the Army annual returns described just 1.9% of other ranks as illiterate; with 85.4% rated as possessing a "superior education". Those percentages were disputed by the Director of Military Education based on the soldiers who possessed a 4th class Army Education Certificate.
The birth date given at enlistment in 1895 may now make sense. He wanted to enter and stay in the army for at least 12 years (as a batman). As yet, no birth record can be traced though we know the father's name and a marriage date. We don't have the enlistment record, only the discharge paper/parchment. He attained both 3rd and 2nd class Army Education Certificates. The symbol (s/d) appears twice; for "Man" and "Commanding Officer" a colonel of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Dublin at the time of reserve transfer in 1906. It does look like a routine use of the device to speed admin up. The document we have (form D 426) was likely created at discharge in 1910 from other records by a Lieutenant or Captain (signature unreadable).
There are 176 occurrences of that service number and only one is an Aird and it’s a Henry.
Harry Aird was also an enlisted man. Both had the same dad, Charles. How did you conclude that Henry was Harry? Did you search FMP and get that as a hint? My dad, John Henry, was nicknamed as Harry Boy in East London as a lad. I have a death certificate for Henry but no birth certificate. For Harry I have a birth certificate but no death certificate.
I obtained similar results using the FreeBMD site, but the census results are clear.
Harry invented a younger self to take the Queens shilling but fearful of discovery he failed to regain his true identity. It’s my belief my dad found out and kept it quiet, but modern research tools have revealed what had been hidden. BTW Charles does not appear to have actually married Eliza, but the Grave Photographic Record site confirms they lived as man and wife. Thanks again for the help, I’ll be investing in the FMP (I have a free account) once my sister comes back from China and can join in again.