Saturday, July 25, 2009


Last UK Veteran of WWI Trench Battles Dies at 111 - AP

Harry Patch, Britain's last survivor of the trenches of World War I, died today at 111. Patch was wounded in 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele, which he remembered as "mud, mud and more mud mixed together with blood."

"Anyone who tells you that in the trenches they weren't scared, he's a damned liar: you were scared all the time," Patch said.

This man has witnessed horrors of war the likes of which today's warrior generation can barely imagine.

His most vivid memory of the war was of encountering a comrade whose torso had been ripped open by shrapnel. "Shoot me," Patch recalled the soldier pleading.

The man died before Patch could draw his revolver.

"I was with him for the last 60 seconds of his life. He gasped one word — 'Mother.' That one word has run through my brain for 88 years. I will never forget it."

There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive. The last known U.S. veteran is Frank Buckles of Charleston, West Virginia, 108, who drove ambulances in France for the U.S. Army.

During World War II, Patch volunteered for the fire service and helped in rescue and firefighting after German bombing raids.

In recent years he and his dwindling band of fellow survivors became poignant, and much-honored, symbols of the conflict. At 101, he received the Legion d'Honneur from the French government. At a remembrance ceremony in 2007, Patch said he felt "humbled that I should be representing an entire generation."

"Today is not for me. It is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes," he said. "It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides."

Honor him.

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