Harry Patch: Facts About the World War 1 Veteran

Here are some facts about Harry Patch.

  • Harry Patch was the last British soldier alive to have fought in World War I and, for a time, was the oldest man in Europe.
  • He was born in June 1898 and died in July 2009.

  • Patch was born near Bath, and became an apprentice plumber until World War 1 broke out. He fought in France and Belgium, returning to England in 1917 after being wounded.
  • After the war, Patch became a full-time plumber, operating his own successful business despite high unemployment at the time.
  • He was too old to fight in World War 2 so he served as a fireman.
  • Patch never really spoke about his experiences in World War I until he reached the age of 100. He always felt that the horrific loss of life was never worth it.
  • In 2004, Patch met one of the last surviving German soldiers and the two exchanged gifts. In the same year, a local cider company manufactured Patch’s Pride cider.
  • In 2009, Harry Patch wrote and published his autobiography, making him one of the oldest people to ever write a book. It was called The Last Fighting Tommy.
  • The poet laureate at the time, Andrew Motion, wrote a poem about Harry Patch when he reached the age of 110. The poem, The Death of Harry Patch, was recited on the radio on Armistice Day.
  • Patch won several medals, including the British War Medal, Victory Medal and National Service Medal. In 2008 he was given the freedom of the city of Wells.
  • Harry Patch died aged 111 and his funeral was held in Wells, Somerset. The cathedral bells were rung 111 times, and no soldiers attending were allowed to carry guns, as Patch had requested.
  • His funeral was shown on television, as there was so much interest. Some people camped out overnight to get one of 1,050 tickets to attend the funeral.