July 29, 2009
Britain’s last survivor who fought in the trenches of World War I died Saturday, July 25 at the age of 111. Harry Patch died quietly during the morning hours at the care center where he lived in Wells, southwest England.
Patch was part of the third battle of Ypres in Belgium. The offensive began on July 31, 1917. It was not until Nov. 6, 1917, that the British and Canadian forces captured what was left of the village of Passchendaele. The cost was 325,000 allied casualties and 260,000 Germans.
Patch was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the Battle of Passchendaele on Sept. 22. He told his story in "The Last Fighting Tommy," written with historian Richard van Emden.
Responding to Patch’s death, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, "The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten. We say today with still greater force, We Will Remember Them."
There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive. The last known U.S. veteran of WWI is Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia, who is 108.
Although Patch was the last British WWI survivor of the action, British-born Claude Choules of Australia, 108, is believed to have served in the Royal Navy during the conflict.
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