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07/25/2010

One year ago: Harry Patch

July 25, 2010 |  7:00 am

Harry-patch Harry Patch was Britain's last surviving World War I veteran. He died one year ago at age 111.

Patch was wounded in 1917 at the third battle of Ypres near the Belgian village of Passchendaele, which he remembered as "mud, mud and more mud mixed together with blood." The shrapnel that wounded him was extracted from his body without the use of anesthetics.

Born in southwest England in 1898, Patch was a teenage apprentice plumber when he was called up for military service in 1916. After his training, he was sent to the trenches as a machine gunner.

After the war, he returned to plumbing, got married and raised a family, although he didn't talk about his war experiences for more than 80 years. He outlived three wives and both of his sons.

At a World War I 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."

For more about Britain's last World War I veteran, read Harry Patch's obituary in The Times.

Photo: Poppies fall around British World War I veteran Harry Patch in October 2007 at the launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Credit: Getty Images

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