Bob Williams, of Wombwell, Barnsley in South Yorkshire, was attacked after hearing noises in his garden on Saturday. He went outside to discover two boys, aged about 12 and 15, coming out of his garden shed.
Mr Williams, who is retired, tried to catch the older boy but was hit over the head with an iron bar by the 12-year-old, who was just 4ft 10in tall. The two boys, who had picked up the weapon in the garden, then fled.
Mr Williams suffered a severe head injury and was taken to Barnsley District General Hospital.
Sergeant Steve Boulton, of Wombwell police, said yesterday: "It's disgusting that children as young as 12 can commit these types of offences. Particularly when you bear in mind the fact that two elderly men have died this weekend after similar attacks.
"This could obviously been far more serious and this young lad could have been facing a murder charge."
Detectives were hoping to take a fuller statement from hope Mr Williams yesterday.Reuse content