Funeral of Harry Patch
Co-secretary of this Group, and WW1 historian Peter Barton, who was with Harry Patch on his visit to Ypres in 2008, commenting on BBC TV said people who had met him felt a sense of awe.
"There was almost something papal about it. It sounds rather odd now but particularly on the Western front when we were out there, people actually wanted to touch him. It was like walking around Ypres with a very aged David Beckham"
25 July 2009: Harry Patch,the last British man to have served in the trenches during the First World War has died aged 111 years. He served as a private in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
In 2008, at the age of 110, he travelled to Ypres to take part in various ceremonies, which included signing a map of the Ypres battlefield where he fought on 16 August 1917, to be presented to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
This photograph shows the memorial which Harry had arranged to be placed at the spot where he and his comrades advanced on that day.
The citation reads:
Here, at dawn, on 16 August 1917, the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 20th (Light) Division crossed the Steenbeek prior to their successful assault on the village of Langemarck.
This stone is erected to the memory of fallen comrades, and to honour the courage, sacrifice and passing of the Great War generation. It is the gift of former Private and Lewis Gunner Harry Patch, No. 29295, C Company, 7th DCLI, the last surviving veteran to have served in the trenches of the Western Front.
Some useful links
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Imperial War Museum
- UK National Inventory of War Memorials
- War Memorials Trust
- The War Graves Photographic Project
- The Battlefields Trust
- Centre for Battlefield Archaeology
- The Western Front Association
- British Commission for Military History
- United Kingdom Parliament