Reading the report, the story doesn’t quite ring true. An eleven year old boy worried about getting his trousers dirty while playing? Using petrol to remove a stain? And would anyone think it was a good idea to light a match to check if the stain had gone?
It seems to me that the boys were up to some mischief. It doesn’t name the other boys or give their ages and I’m hoping that Robert was not the victim of some kind of attack that he was frightened to report.
Another report from a different local newspaper shows that his clothing was saturated in petrol which doesn’t fit with the stain removal story.
Whatever the case, the injuries he suffered were quite severe and I imagine his recovery would have taken some time. The scars, both physical and mental, would likely have been with him for life.