The Calpin Family: Ten Brothers Who All Fought and Survived the First World War


When the First World War broke out a century ago, thousands of young men answered the call to military duty, including the Calvin brothers from York. The ten brothers, aged between 18 and 37 at the time of the outbreak, are thought to have been the largest group of siblings to have ever fought in a war and survived to come home.

Two of the brothers were already in the military for services to the British Empire, while the remaining eight joined up upon the release of iconic recruitment poster that saw Lord Kitchener’s face implore “Your country needs you!” Their unique tale earned them public thanks and congratulations from King George V, while their names were trumpeted in a recruitment drive and even broadcast in local cinemas. However, until now their story was lost in obscurity. It is only in the last week that their names became heard again as Michael Calpin, the grandson of Ernest Calpin who served on HMS Dreadnought, said “It’s an astonishing thing for ten brothers all to go to war and it’s highly unlikely it will ever happen again. I’m really pleased to think that what they did is being recognised.”

The eldest brother, Private John Calpin’s granddaughter Brenda Allison said “I’m very proud of our family history and of the way the brothers responded. They obviously had a very strong patriotic spirit. But from the very first day they got over to France it was an absolute bloodbath.” Guiness World Records has been reviewing the information on the brothers with the potential to include them in a new listing.