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The Last Tommy – RIP July 25, 2009

Posted by Peter Hornby in history.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Harry Patch, then aged 109 and the last survivor of the Battle of Passchendaele.  He’d hidden his story inside himself for eighty years, never letting his experiences out, even to his wife. Finally, in 1998, at the age of 100, he agreed to be interviewed for the  BBC documentary “Veterans”.  Later, he co-operated with the historian Richard van Emden in the book “The Last Fighting Tommy”, a memoir of his experiences as an eighteen-year-old soldier in the squalor and degradation of the trenches of the Western Front.  In 2007, he returned to Passchendaele on the 90th anniversary of the battle, laying wreaths for both the Allied and German casualties.

Harry Patch died yesterday, aged 111.

The BBC obituary is here.

There is now no-one left who remembers the Battle of Passchendaele.  It’s hard to do better than to, once again, quote his words.

It wasn’t worth it. No war is worth it. No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives let alone thousands. T’isn’t worth it …

– Harry Patch



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