World War I’s ‘Last Tommy’ Dies

Britain’s oldest man and World War I’s last British based soldier has died at the age of 111. He was being cared for at a home in Wells, Somerset.

Harry Patch was the last surviving man to have fought in the tragic battle of Passchendaele in 1917. Over 70,000 British troops died in this mud soaked battle, and now the only remaining British survivor of the war, Claude Choules, lives in Australia. He is aged 108.

Harry, known as ‘the last Tommy’, became Britain’s oldest man a week ago following the death of Henry Allingham. Henry, aged 113, had previously been WWIs oldest veteran.

Harry Patch was born on 17th June 1898. At this time, Queen Victoria still reigned and the country’s Prime Minister was the Marquess of Salisbury. He grew up near Bath in Coombe Down, leaving school at the age of 15 to become a plumber. When the war broke out, Henry was just 16 years of age. At 18, he joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and went to war. An incident involving a shell attack that killed his friends caused Henry to be removed from the front line.

By the time World War II broke out, Henry was too old to fight so he worked in American camps as a sanitary engineer, retiring in 1963. His first wife died in 1976, but Henry then remarried at the admirable age of 81. His second wife sadly died 7 years ago.

This March, both Mr Patch and Mr Allingham received the insignia of the Légion d’Honneur. It was presented by the French Ambassador, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne.

Today, the country mourns for its last World War I hero. Our London escorts send their condolences to his family and the Last Tommy will not be forgotten.