By TITVS ADVXAS - As the nation mourns the last Tommy to survive World War One, it's a wonder Private Henry John Patch even lived to see the Armistice in 1918. Another heroic stalwart of the conflict, he was injured in battle when shrapnel exploded above him, killing three of his comrades, his closest chums, men with whom he'd trained and served and with whom he nearly did perish...
The alleged 1916 conversation between the German Generals Erich Ludendorff and Max Hoffmann which went along the lines that the English army 'were lions led by donkeys' rang true a year later as battalion after battalion of brave young Englishmen, Welshmen, Scotsmen and Irishmen, Canadians and Newfoundlanders, Indians, Anzacs and South Africans, were all thrown literally into the Flanders mire, by those Hooray Henries Generals Haig, Gough and Plumer.
The last English survivor from the trenches, a man who fought and was wounded at Passchendaele, Private Patch, died on Saturday (25th July 2009) aged 111. Ironically "Harry" outlived one of the other survivors of that war, Henry Allingham, by just 7 days, leaving just three others, of whom, only Claude Choule, 108, saw active service at sea, serving with the Royal Navy during World War I. Mr Choule was born in Worcestershire and now lives in Western Australia. The other two survivors are John Babcock and Frank Buckles. Mr Babcock, who turned 109 on 23 July, was with The Canadian Boys Battalion in England. The war ended before he turned 18 and could go to the front. Mr Buckles, 108, joined the American army at age 16 and was held in reserve in England from December 1917. After six months he was sent to France but never saw action on the frontline.
The British National Party, it seemed to me, was the only political party who remembered Henry Allingham in the previous week, at meetings and in their own press. his weekend, the shame from the other parties from their own neglect, has forced them to remember Private Henry John Patch (retired) of Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. The last Tommy.
In memory of Harry Patch 1898 to 2009. May God keep you and let you rest in peace.