Posted by David on August 04, 2009 12:07 AM
Harry Patch on the 90th anniversary of the Armistice in 2008. Photo by Don McCullin.
A few weeks ago we learned of the death of Henry Allingham, the oldest surviving RAF member, and last week we sadly learned of the death of Harry Patch, who died on July 25, and who was the very last British WWI trench veteran. He's survived by the very last British WWI veteran Claude Choules, who lives in Australia.
The Prince of Wales said nothing could give him greater pride than paying tribute to Mr Patch.
He told the BBC: "Harry was involved in numerous bouts of heavy fighting on the front line but amazingly remained unscathed for a while.
"Tragically one night in September 1917 when in the morass in the Ypres Salient a German shrapnel shell burst overhead badly wounding Harry and killing three of his closest friends.
"In spite of the comparatively short time that he served with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, Harry always cherished the extraordinary camaraderie that the appalling conditions engendered in the battalion and remained loyal to the end."
Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said: "He was the last of a generation that in youth was steadfast in its duty in the face of cruel sacrifice and we give thanks for his life - as well as those of his comrades - for upholding the same values and freedom that we continue to cherish and fight for today."
Conservative leader David Cameron said: "The passing of our last surviving WWI soldier marks the end of an era and is a reminder of the huge debt of gratitude we owe Harry and those he served alongside."
(via the BBC
Related:Henry Allingham, oldest surviving RAF member, dies at 113