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WWI veteran marks 110th birthday

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  • WWI veteran marks 110th birthday

    WWI veteran marks 110th birthday

    The oldest surviving veteran of World War I's trench warfare is celebrating his 110th birthday.

    Harry Patch, who was born in Combe Down, Somerset, was a plumber by trade before being called up. He was a private at the Battle of Passchendaele.

    A party is planned at the care home in Wells, where he now lives.

    Mr Patch attributes his long life to clean living, avoiding what he describes as the "three sins" of smoking, drinking and gambling.

    "For many years in Shropshire, I lived quite close to the Welsh mountains," he said.

    "Fresh air, no petrol and no cars, that's the secret."

    After the war, Mr Patch was married in Wellington, Shropshire, in 1919.

    He returned to work as a plumber and was a key player in the construction of the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol.

    In 1999 he received the Legion D'Honneur medal awarded by the French government to some 350 surviving WWI veterans who fought on the Western Front.

    His life as a "Tommy" has been well-documented in books and films.

    He is the second oldest UK survivor from World War I. The oldest is 112-year-old Henry Allingham, who fought in the Battle of Jutland rather than in the trenches like Mr Patch.

    In March this year, poet laureate Andrew Motion composed a poem about Mr Patch.

    The Five Acts of Harry Patch was first read at a special event at the Bishop's Palace in Wells where it was introduced by the Prince of Wales.

    In his autobiography, The Last Fighting Tommy, he spoke of his aversion to war.

    "Somerset people are not warlike - it is not something in our make-up," he wrote.
    From BBC News
    "Attack your attic with a seen on the Late Late Show..."

  • #2
    I See Henry Allingham passed on over the weekend to his eternal reward.

    I believe in addition to being the Oldest man in the world(at 112) he was also the last surviving WW1 veteran.

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


    • #3
      Last WW1 trenches hero passes away

      Harry Patch, the last survivor of World War I to fight in the trenches, has died.
      He passed away at Fletcher House, the care home in Somerset where he was living. He was 111.

      The care home released a statement which read: "It is with much sadness that we must announce the death of Mr Harry Patch at the age of 111.

      "Funeral arrangements are being made in accordance with Mr Patch's wishes, and we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and the residents and staff of Fletcher House."

      Mr Patch, known as the Last Tommy, fought in the battle of Passchendaele in 1917 in which more than 70,000 British troops died.

      He became Britain's oldest man when another veteran of the war, Henry Allingham, died on July 18 aged 113.

      Mr Patch was a machine-gunner in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

      He served in the trenches as a private from June to September 1917.

      Born on June 17 1898, he grew up in Combe Down, near Bath, and left school at the age of 15 to train as a plumber.

      He was 16 when war broke out and reached 18 as conscription was being introduced and after six months training he was sent to the frontline.
      Last edited by WES; 25 July 2009, 14:03.
      The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
      (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)


      • #4
        RIP Harry Patch. A humble hero, and a gentleman too.


        • #5
          a bit of a mercenary question

          but were them lads on a pension

          if so they were quids in

          well done

          and RIP
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere***
          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.


          • #6
            I shouldn't be laughing at that hedgie! But fair play!


            • #7
              Originally posted by hedgehog View Post
              a bit of a mercenary question

              but were them lads on a pension
              They would have been on a State Pension of around £95 per week.


              • #8
                its amazing that he outlived his own children


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pmtts View Post
                  They would have been on a State Pension of around £95 per week.
                  I presume you mean the old age pension, which he would have been collecting since 1963. He was wounded on 22 September 1917 and didn't return to front line duty. That wound may or may not have earned him some measure of a disability pension. Presumably if his service record survived the blitz it would not have been made public as he was alive, the same would go for any pension record. A quick search turned up nothing except his medal card which can be viewed.
                  Last edited by WES; 26 July 2009, 19:02.
                  The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
                  (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by golden rivet View Post
                    its amazing that he outlived his own children
                    And two wives.
                    The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
                    (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)


                    • #11
                      Nice write up in the Irishmans Diary last week about this.


                      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                      • #12
                        The last US veteran of WW1 has died.

                        Buckles, last WWI doughboy, dies at 110 in W.Va.
                        MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — He didn't seek the spotlight, but when Frank Buckles outlived every other American who'd served in World War I, he became what his biographer called "the humble patriot" and final torchbearer for the memory of that fading conflict.

                        Buckles enlisted in World War I at 16 after lying about his age. He died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, nearly a month after his 110th birthday. He had devoted the last years of his life to campaigning for greater recognition for his former comrades, prodding politicians to support a national memorial in Washington and working with friend and family spokesman David DeJonge on a biography.

                        "We were always asking ourselves: How can we represent this story to the world?" DeJonge said Monday. "How can we make sure World War I isn't forgotten."

                        Buckles asked his daughter, Susannah Flanagan, about progress toward a national memorial every week, sometimes daily.

                        "He was sad it's not completed," DeJonge said. "It's a simple straightforward thing to do, to honor Americans."

                        When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last survivor, Buckles said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me."

                        Only two known veterans remain, according to the Order of the First World War, a Florida group whose members are descendants of WWI veterans and include Buckles' daughter. The survivors are Florence Green in Britain and Claude Choules in Australia, said Robert Carroon, the group's senior vice commander. Choules, who served in Britain's Royal Navy, was born in that country but now lives in Australia.

                        Green turned 110 on Feb. 19, and Choules turns 110 in March, he said.

                        Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States in April 1917 entered what was called "the war to end all wars." He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18.

                        More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. By 2007, only three survived. Buckles went to Washington that year to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.

                        Unlike Buckles, the other two survivors were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended, and they did not make it overseas. When they died in late 2007 and 2008, Buckles became the last so-called doughboy — and a soft-spoken celebrity.

                        He got fan mail almost every day, DeJonge said, and had enough birthday cards to fill several bushel baskets.

                        DeJonge had visited Buckles late last week and was driving back to Michigan with about 5,000 letters to organize and answer when he got the call telling him his friend had died.

                        "The letters are so heartfelt," he said. "Each night, Susannah would go in and sit at Papa's bedside and read them to Frank. That kept him going."

                        Buckles had been battling colds and other minor ailments this winter, but he was not ill at the time of his death.

                        The day before he died was warm, DeJonge said, and he spent three hours sitting in the sunshine on the porch of his farmhouse, talking with his daughter.

                        She worked diligently to keep Buckles in his own home, even though it exhausted his life savings. DeJonge said home health nurses and other medical care cost about $120,000 a year.

                        Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week, but the family is planning a burial in Arlington National Cemetery. In 2008, friends persuaded the federal government to make an exception to its rules for who can be interred there.

                        Buckles had already been eligible to have his cremated remains housed at the cemetery. Burial, however, normally requires meeting several criteria, including earning one of five medals, such as a Purple Heart.

                        Buckles never saw combat but once joked, "Didn't I make every effort?"

                        U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and the rest of West Virginia's congressional delegation were also working Monday on a plan to allow Buckles to lie in repose in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

                        According to the Architect of the Capitol's website, the last person to do so was President Gerald Ford.

                        The honor is reserved mostly for elected and military officials, but others have included civil rights activist Rosa Parks and unknown soldiers from both World Wars and the Korean War.

                        Sen. Jay Rockefeller called Buckles "a wonderfully plainspoken man and an icon for the World War I generation" and said he will continue fighting for the memorial Buckles wanted.

                        "He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot," said Sen. Joe Manchin, "and I hope that his family's loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many."

                        The family asked that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.

                        "We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity, who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow 'Doughboys' are appropriately commemorated."

                        In spring 2007, Buckles told The Associated Press of the trouble he went through to get into the military.

                        "I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps," he said. "The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21."

                        Buckles returned a week later.

                        "I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21," he said with a grin. "I passed the inspection ... but he told me I just wasn't heavy enough."

                        Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.

                        Buckles wouldn't quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.

                        "I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'"

                        Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.

                        After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.

                        After the war, he returned to Oklahoma, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he landed jobs in banking and advertising.

                        But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.

                        In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.

                        "I was never actually looking for adventure," he once said. "It just came to me."


                        U.S. army enlistment photo, taken in August 1917, of Frank Buckles, who died on the weekend in West Virginia at age 110. (Buckles Family/Associated Press)
                        Last edited by Goldie fish; 28 February 2011, 20:58.

                        Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                        • #13
                          The last one of 70m: Claude fought to live another day at 110

                          A 110-year-old West Australian man believed to be the world's last surviving WWI combat veteran hated war and only marched in Anzac Day parades when he was ordered to, says his son.

                          Claude Choules is celebrating his 110th birthday with family and friends in Perth on Thursday.

                          He's the last known male survivor of more than 70 million military personnel during WWI, after American veteran Frank Buckles passed away on Sunday also aged 110.

                          The only other surviving WWI veteran is believed to be Britain's Florence Green, who served with the Royal Air Force in a non-combat role and is now aged 110.

                          Born in England in 1901, Mr Choules served with Britain's Royal Navy onboard the HMS Impregnable in 1916 at the age of 15.

                          He joined the battleship HMS Revenge in 1917 and witnessed the surrender of the German Fleet near Firth of Forth in Scotland in 1918.

                          Mr Choules moved to Fremantle where he was seconded to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1926.

                          He was a commissioning crew member of the HMAS Canberra and served with her until 1931 when he discharged from the RAN before rejoining as a torpedo and anti-submarine instructor in 1932.

                          As the acting torpedo officer at Fremantle in WWII, Mr Choules disposed of the first German mine to wash up on Australian soil during WWII, near Esperance, on WA's south coast.

                          He was also tasked with destroying harbour and oil storage tanks at the Fremantle port in case of a Japanese invasion.

                          Mr Choules remained in the RAN after WWII, spending his final working years at the Naval Dockyard Police and joining the crayfishing industry, at Safety Bay, south of Perth.

                          Mr Choules released his autobiography in 2009 titled The Last of the Last, depicting his childhood and move to Australia, as well as his times at war.

                          Mr Choules, who is now blind and almost completely deaf, now lives in a nursing home.

                          He and his wife, who passed away at the age of 98, had two daughters and a son.

                          Mr Choules also has 13 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

                          His son, Adrian Choules, told AAP Mr Choules was not excited about the milestone birthday or the attention he was receiving as the last surviving war combat veteran.

                          "He couldn't care less about his birthday. He's a celebrity now but that's only because everyone else has died," he said.

                          "He served in two wars but he hated war. He just saw it as a job.

                          "He never marched in an Anzac parade he wasn't ordered to."

                          Mr Choules said although his father was "special" to the family, he did not understand all the "celebrity" attention he was getting from the media.

                          "Someone's got to be the last man standing ... he's just an ordinary man," he said.



                          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                          • #14
                            Claude Choules, the last World War I combat veteran, was defiant of age, place in history
                            Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, May 5, 3:02 PM
                            SYDNEY — The last known combat veteran of World War I was defiant of the tolls of time, a centenarian who swam in the sea, twirled across dance floors, and published his first book at 108. He also refused to submit to his place in history, becoming a pacifist who wouldn’t march in parades commemorating wars like the one that made him famous.

                            Claude Stanley Choules, a man of contradictions, humble spirit and wry humor, died in a Western Australia nursing home Thursday at age 110. And though his accomplishments were many — including a a 41-year military career that spanned two world wars — the man known as “Chuckles” to his comrades in the Australian Navy was happiest being known as a dedicated family man.
                            .“We all loved him,” his 84-year-old daughter Daphne Edinger told The Associated Press. “It’s going to be sad to think of him not being here any longer, but that’s the way things go.”

                            Choules was born March 3, 1901, in the small British town of Pershore, Worcestershire, one of seven children. As a child, he was told his mother had died — a lie meant to cover a more painful truth: She left when he was 5 to pursue an acting career. The abandonment affected him profoundly, said his other daughter, Anne Pow, and he grew up determined to create a happy home for his own children.

                            In his autobiography, “The Last of the Last” published just two years ago, he remembered the day the first motor car drove through town, an event that brought all the villagers outside to watch. He remembered when a packet of cigarettes cost a penny. He remembered learning to surf off the coast of South Africa, and how strange he found it that black locals were forced to use a separate beach from whites.

                            He was drawn to the water at an early age, fishing and swimming at the local brook. Later in life, he would regularly swim in the warm waters off the Western Australia state coast, only stopping when he turned 100.

                            World War I was raging when Choules began training with the British Royal Navy, just one month after he turned 14. In 1917, he joined the battleship HMS Revenge, from which he watched the 1918 surrender of the German High Seas Fleet, the main battle fleet of the German Navy during the war.

                            “There was no sign of fight left in the Germans as they came out of the mist at about 10 a.m.,” Choules wrote in his autobiography. The German flag, he recalled, was hauled down at sunset.

                            “So ended the most momentous day in the annals of naval warfare,” he wrote. “A fleet of ships surrendered without firing a shot.”

                            Choules and another Briton, Florence Green, became the war’s last known surviving service members after the death of American Frank Buckles in February, according to the Order of the First World War, a U.S.-based group that tracks veterans. Choules was the last known surviving combatant of the war. Green, who turned 110 in February, was a waitress in the Women’s Royal Air Force.

                            Choules met his wife, Ethel Wildgoose, in 1926 on the first day of a six-week boat trip from England to Australia, where he had been dispatched to serve as a naval instructor at Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria state. Ten months later, they were married. They went on to have three children — Daphne, Anne and Adrian, now in their 70s and 80s.

                            The couple would spend the next 76 years together, until Ethel’s death in 2003 at age 98. Even in their final days together, they could often be spotted sitting side-by-side, holding hands.

                            “I think it was love at first sight,” Choules wrote in his autobiography. “Certainly on my part, anyway.”

                            ( Royal Australian Navy, LSIS Nadia Monteith / Associated Press ) - In this Sept. 11, 2009 photo supplied by the Royal Australian Navy, World War I Navy Veteran Claude Choules sits in the Gracewood Retirement Village lounge room in Salter Point, on the suburb of Perth, Western Australia. Claude Stanley Choules, the last known combat veteran of World War I, has died, Thursday, May 5, 2011 at a nursing home in the Western Australia city of Perth, his family says. He was 110..
                            .Choules later joined the Royal Australian Navy and settled permanently Down Under, where he found life much more pleasant than in his home country.

                            “I was nobody,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio in November 2009 of his years in England. “But I was somebody here.”

                            During World War II, he was the acting torpedo officer in Fremantle, Western Australia, and chief demolition officer for the western side of the Australian continent. Choules disposed of the first mine to wash ashore in Australia during the war.

                            He later transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police and remained in the service until his retirement in 1956.

                            “His career has spanned some of the most significant events in maritime history,” Royal Australian Navy Captain Brett Wolski said in a statement Thursday.

                            But despite the fame his military service (and longevity) brought him, Choules later in life became a pacifist who was uncomfortable with anything that glorified war. He disagreed with the celebration of Anzac Day, Australia’s most important war memorial holiday, and refused to march in parades held each year to mark the holiday.

                            “He didn’t believe in war,” Edinger said.

                            After his retirement, he and Ethel bought a beach house south of Perth and spent the next 10 years cray-fishing, relishing the peaceful moments at the end of their days when they would have tea aboard their boat.

                            In his 80s, he took a creative writing course at the urging of his children and decided to record his memoirs for his family. The memoirs formed the basis of his autobiography, which was finally published three decades later in 2009. He would cite the book as one of his greatest achievements.

                            He usually told the curious that the secret to a long life was simply to “keep breathing.” Sometimes, he chalked up his longevity to cod liver oil. But his children say in his heart, he believed it was the love of his family that kept him going for so many years.

                            “His family was the most important thing in his life,” Pow told the AP in a March 2010 interview. “It was a good way to grow up, you know. Very reassuring.”

                            Even as he passed the century milestone, he remained remarkably healthy and active, and continued to dance until a few years ago. He liked to start each day with a bowl of porridge and occasionally indulged in his favorite treats: mango juice and chocolate.

                            “He doesn’t have medication because there’s nothing wrong with him,” Pow told the AP on Choules’ 110th birthday.

                            “He’s just going to quietly drift out of life — eventually,” she added with a laugh.

                            Still, aging took its toll, and in recent years, he grew blind and nearly deaf. Despite that, his children say he retained his cheerful spirit and positive outlook on life.

                            “I had a pretty poor start,” he told the ABC in November 2009. “But I had a good finish.”

                            Last edited by Goldie fish; 5 May 2011, 19:31.

                            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.