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Harry Patch

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Harry Patch R.I.P

An absolute legend. Born 17 June 1898 - Died 25th July 2009 aged 111. He was at the time of his death the third oldest living person and the Last Fighting Tommy (the last man alive to fight in the trenches of WW1).

Raised in Combe Down, near Bath, and left school at the age of 15 to train as a plumber, a year later The Great War began.

He was conscripted, aged 18, and served as a machine gunner with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry from June to September 1917.

"I knew what it was going to be like: dirty, filthy, insanitary,"

While in France he fought in the Battle of Passchendaele at Ypres. During the battle Patch was injured in the groin when a shell exploded overhead killing three of his comrades. After this he was removed from the front line and returned to England on 23 December 1917.

"I can remember the shell bursting. I saw the flash, I must have passed out. The next thing I could remember was the dressing station. A wound in my groin. The nurse painted something around it to stop the lice getting at it. I was given a good hot bath. The lice came off – you could pick them up with a shovel – bloody things."

Too old to fight in the Second World War, Harry worked as a maintenance manager at a US Army camp in Somerset and joined the Auxiliary Fire Service in Bath.

After the war he went back to plumbing and retired in 1963. Following his first wife's death in 1976, he married again at the age of 81.

In March 2009, Harry received the insignia of the Legion d'Honneur from the French Ambassador, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, at his Somerset nursing home.

Harry had been unwell for some time and passed away peacefully in his bed at the Fletcher House care home in Somerset.

Said The Queen "We will never forget the bravery and enormous sacrifice of his generation, which will continue to serve as an example to us all."

Rest in Peace Sir.

External Resources

Harry's Wiki Page

Echoes around the World

A Profile