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Harry Patch

Harry Patch

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Encyclopedia
Henry John "Harry" Patch (17 June 1898 – 25 July 2009), known in his latter years as "the Last Fighting Tommy
Tommy Atkins
Tommy Atkins is a term for a common soldier in the British Army that was already well established in the 19th century, but is particularly associated with World War I. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to "Tommy" across no man's land if...

", was a British supercentenarian
Supercentenarian
A supercentenarian is someone who has reached the age of 110 years. This age is achieved by about one in a thousand centenarians....

, briefly the oldest man in Europe, and the last surviving soldier to have fought in the trenches
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

 of the First World War. Patch was, with Claude Choules
Claude Choules
Claude Stanley Choules was the last World War I combat veteran, and was the last military witness to the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow. He was also the last veteran to have served in both world wars, and the last seaman from the First World War...

 and Florence Green
Florence Green
Florence Beatrice Green is the last known living veteran of the First World War. She was a member of the Women's Royal Air Force.-Biography:...

, one of the last three surviving British veterans of the First World War and, along with Frank Buckles
Frank Buckles
Frank Woodruff Buckles was the last surviving American veteran of World War I. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1917 and served with a detachment from Fort Riley, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines in Europe.During World War II, he was captured by Japanese forces...

 and John Babcock
John Babcock
John Henry Foster "Jack" Babcock was, at age 109, the last known surviving veteran of the Canadian military to have served in the First World War and, after the death of Harry Patch, was the conflict's oldest surviving veteran...

, one of the last five veterans worldwide.

At the time of his death, aged 111 years, 38 days, Patch was the verified third-oldest man in the world, the oldest man in Europe and the 68th oldest man.

Biography


Patch was born in the village of Combe Down
Combe Down
Combe Down is a village suburb of Bath, England in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Somerset. Combe Down sits on a ridge above and about 1.5 miles to the south of Bath city centre. "Combe" or "coombe" is a West Country word meaning a steep-sided...

, near Bath, Somerset, England. He appears in the 1901 Census
United Kingdom Census 1901
A nationwide census was conducted in England and Wales on 31 March 1901. It contains records for 32 million people and 6 million houses, It covers the whole of England and Wales, with the exception of parts of Deal in Kent. Separate censuses were held in Scotland and Ireland...

 as a two-year-old boy along with his stonemason father William John, mother Elizabeth Ann (née Morris), and older brothers George Frederick and William Thomas at a house called "Fonthill". The family are recorded at the same address "Fonthill Cottage" in the 1911 census
Census in the United Kingdom
Coincident full censuses have taken place in the different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom every ten years since 1801, with the exceptions of 1941 and in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State in 1921; simultaneous censuses were taken in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, with...

. His elder brothers are recorded as a carpenter and banker mason respectively. Patch left school in 1913, and started work as an apprentice plumber
Plumber
A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable water, sewage, and drainage in plumbing systems. The term dates from ancient times, and is related to the Latin word for lead, "plumbum." A person engaged in fixing metaphorical "leaks" may also be...

 in Bath.

In October 1916, he was conscripted as a private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1959. Its lineage is continued today by The Rifles....

, serving as an assistant gunner in a Lewis Gun
Lewis Gun
The Lewis Gun is a World War I–era light machine gun of American design that was perfected and widely used by the British Empire. It was first used in combat in World War I, and continued in service with a number of armed forces through to the end of the Korean War...

 section. Patch arrived in France in June 1917. During his time in France he fought at the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). Patch was injured in the groin when a shell exploded overhead at 22:30 on 22 September 1917, killing three of his comrades. After this he was removed from the front line and returned to England on 23 December 1917. Patch referred to 22 September as his personal Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

. He was convalescing on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 when the Armistice was declared.

Of his time in the Great War he said: "When the war ended, I don't know if I was more relieved that we'd won or that I didn't have to go back. Passchendaele was a disastrous battle – thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry. Earlier this year, I went back to Ypres to shake the hand of Herr Kuentz, Germany's only surviving veteran from the war. It was emotional. He is 107. We've had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it's a licence to go out and murder. Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language
I couldn't speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?"http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article500239.ece

After the war, Patch returned to work as a plumber, during which time he spent four years working on the Wills Memorial Building
Wills Memorial Building
The Wills Memorial Building is a Neo Gothic building designed by Sir George Oatley and built as a memorial to Henry Overton Wills III...

 in Bristol, before becoming manager of the plumbing company's branch in Bristol. A year above the age to be called up for military service at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he became a part-time fireman
Firefighter
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

 in Bath, dealing with the Baedeker raids. Later in the war he moved to Street, Somerset
Street, Somerset
Street is a small village and civil parish in the county of Somerset, England. It is situated on a dry spot in the Somerset Levels, at the end of the Polden Hills, south-west of Glastonbury. The 2001 census records the village as having a population of 11,066...

 where he ran a plumbing company until his retirement at age 65.

In 1918, Patch married Ada Billington, who died in 1976. They had two sons, both of whom predeceased him: Dennis, who died in 1984, and Roy, who died in 2002. At age 81 he married his second wife, Jean, who died in 1984. His third partner, Doris, who lived in the same nursing home
Nursing home
A nursing home, convalescent home, skilled nursing unit , care home, rest home, or old people's home provides a type of care of residents: it is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living...

 as him, died in 2007.

Last Tommy


Patch had refused to discuss his war experiences, until approached in 1998 for the BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 documentary Veterans, on reflection of which and the realisation that he was part of a fast dwindling group of veterans of "the war to end all wars", persuaded him to step into the limelight.

Patch was featured in the 2003 television series World War 1 in Colour
World War 1 in Colour
World War 1 in Colour is a documentary narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The first of its six parts aired on 1 September 1990 in the United Kingdom. It was released on DVD in the United States as World War 1 in Color on 10 May 2005...

, and was quoted as saying "...if any man tells you he went over the top and he wasn't scared, he's a damn liar." In the same series, he reflected upon his lost friends and the moment when he came face to face with a German soldier. He recalled the story of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 descending from Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

 with God's Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

, including "Thou shalt not kill", and could not bring himself to kill the German. Instead, he shot him in the shoulder, which made him drop his rifle. But he carried on running towards Patch's Lewis Gun, so he then shot him above the knee, and in the ankle. Patch said, "I had about five seconds to make the decision. I brought him down, but I didn't kill him."
In November 2004, at the age of 106, he met Charles Kuentz
Charles Kuentz
Charles Kuentz was a Alsatian centenarian and veteran of World War I. He is known for having served the German army during the Battle of Passchendaele in World War I, and the French army during World War II...

, a 107-year-old veteran who had fought on the German side at the battlefield of Passchendaele (and on the French side in World War II). Patch was quoted as saying: "I was a bit doubtful before meeting a German soldier. Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman however. He is all for a united Europe and peace – and so am I". Kuentz had brought along a tin of Alsatian
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 biscuits and Patch gave him a bottle of Somerset cider in return. The meeting was featured in a 2005 BBC TV programme The Last Tommy, which told the story of six of the World War I veterans alive at the time.

In December 2004, Patch was given a present of 106 bottles of Patch's Pride Cider, which has been named after him and produced by the Gaymer Cider Company
Gaymer Cider Company
The Gaymer Cider Company produces and markets Cider. It is owned by C&C Group plc since 2010, who also owns Magners Cider, Bulmers Cider in Ireland and Tennents in Scotland.-History:The Gaymer family had a cider making business in Banham, Norfolk, from 1680...

.
In Spring 2005 he was interviewed by the Today programme in which he said of the First World war: "Too many died. War isn't worth one life", and said war was the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings". This interview was the inspiration for a 2009 song by the band Radiohead, "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
"Harry Patch " is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. The band wrote and recorded the song as a tribute to the British supercentenarian Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to have fought in the trenches during World War I...

".

In July 2005, Patch voiced his outrage over plans to build a motorway in northern France over cemeteries of the First World War.

On 16 December 2005, Patch was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bristol
University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is a public research university located in Bristol, United Kingdom. One of the so-called "red brick" universities, it received its Royal Charter in 1909, although its predecessor institution, University College, Bristol, had been in existence since 1876.The University is...

,
whose buildings he helped construct in the 1920s. The University's newly-restored Wills Memorial Building was reopened by Patch on 20 February 2008. He was chosen for this honour as he was a member of the workforce that originally helped build the tower, which was opened on 9 June 1925 by King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

, an event which Patch also attended.

In July 2007, marking the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, in which he fought, Patch revisited the site of the battle in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 to pay his respects to the fallen on both sides of the conflict. He was accompanied by historian Richard van Emden
Richard Van Emden
Richard van Emden is a British author and television documentary producer who specialises in the First World War. Born in Nottingham in 1965, Van Emden specialises in first-person testimonies of people who lived through World War I....

. On this occasion, Patch described war as the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings" and said that "war isn't worth one life."

In August 2007, Patch's autobiography The Last Fighting Tommy was published, making him one of the oldest authors ever. With the proceeds from this book, Patch decided to fund an Inshore Lifeboat for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on selected inland waterways....

 (RNLI) and he attended the RNLI's Lifeboat College on 20 July 2007 to officially name the boat The Doris and Harry.

In February 2008, the poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

 of the United Kingdom Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion
Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL is an English poet, novelist and biographer, who presided as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.- Life and career :...

 was commissioned by the BBC West television programme Inside Out West to write a poem in Patch's honour. Entitled "The Five Acts of Harry Patch" it was first read at a special event at the Bishop's Palace in Wells
Bishop's Palace, Wells
The Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset, England, is adjacent to Wells Cathedral and has been the home of the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years....

 where it was introduced by the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

 and received by Harry Patch.

In July 2008, Wells City Council conferred the freedom of the city
Freedom of the City
Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by some municipalities in Australia, Canada, Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Rhodesia to esteemed members of its community and to organisations to be honoured, often for service to the community;...

 of Wells on Patch.

On 27 September 2008, in a private ceremony attended by just a few people, Patch opened a memorial on the bank of the Steenbeek at the point where he crossed the river in 1917.
The memorial reads:- "Here, at dawn, on 16 August 1917, the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

, 20th (Light) division, crossed the Steenbeek prior to their successful assault on the village on 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."

In October 2008, Patch launched the 2008 Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Somerset. On 11 November 2008, marking the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, together with fellow veterans Henry Allingham
Henry Allingham
Henry William Allingham was a British supercentenarian, First World War veteran and, for one month, the verified oldest living man in the world...

 and Bill Stone, Patch laid a commemorative wreath for the Act of Remembrance at The Cenotaph in London, escorted by Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 recipient Johnson Beharry
Johnson Beharry
Lance Corporal Johnson Gideon Beharry VC of the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, is a British Army soldier who, on 18 March 2005, was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, for twice saving members of...

.

On 9 November 2008, the Master of the Queen's Music
Master of the Queen's Music
Master of the Queen's Music is a post in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. The holder of the post originally served the monarch of England.The post is roughly comparable to that of Poet Laureate...

, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies attended the world premiere of his choral work paying tribute to Patch. The piece sets words by the then Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

, Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion
Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL is an English poet, novelist and biographer, who presided as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.- Life and career :...

, and was performed at Portsmouth Cathedral
Portsmouth Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Portsmouth, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is the Church of England cathedral of the City of Portsmouth, England and is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth...

 by the London Mozart Players
London Mozart Players
The London Mozart Players is a British chamber orchestra founded in 1949. The LMP is the longest-established chamber orchestra in the United Kingdom whose performances and recordings focus largely on the core repertoire from the Classical era...

, the Portsmouth Grammar School chamber choir and the cathedral's choristers. The creation of the work was featured in A poem for Harry, a BBC West
BBC West
BBC West is the BBC English Region serving Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.-Television:...

 documentary that was subsequently repeated on BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

. The programme subsequently won a gold medal at the New York Festivals International Television Programming and Promotion Awards.

On 18 July 2009, on the death of Henry Allingham
Henry Allingham
Henry William Allingham was a British supercentenarian, First World War veteran and, for one month, the verified oldest living man in the world...

, Patch became the oldest surviving veteran and also the oldest man in the United Kingdom. Patch was the last trench veteran of World War I. The penultimate Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 veteran, the 108-year-old Fernand Goux
Fernand Goux
Fernand Goux was, at age 108, the penultimate French World War I veteran, with Pierre Picault being the last. Born in Sceaux-du-Gâtinais, Loiret, Goux was called up for service on April 19, 1918. Goux was deployed behind the front lines with the 85th Infantry Regiment, supplying the troops and...

 of France, who died on 9 November 2008, fought for 8 days. He came out unscathed, unlike Patch and the last Alpine Front veteran, 110-year-old Delfino Borroni of Italy, who died on 26 October 2008. Patch was also the last surviving Tommy
Tommy Atkins
Tommy Atkins is a term for a common soldier in the British Army that was already well established in the 19th century, but is particularly associated with World War I. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to "Tommy" across no man's land if...

, since the death on 4 April 2009 of Netherwood Hughes
Netherwood Hughes
Netherwood "Ned" Hughes was one of the last two Tommies who served the United Kingdom during the First World War, along with Harry Patch, although Patch is the only one to have seen action. Hughes was also one of three British veterans still living in the country, with Patch and Henry Allingham...

, who was still in training when the war ended. The penultimate fighting Tommy, Andrew Rigby, died on 9 June 2006, the week before Patch's 108th birthday. Claude Choules
Claude Choules
Claude Stanley Choules was the last World War I combat veteran, and was the last military witness to the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow. He was also the last veteran to have served in both world wars, and the last seaman from the First World War...

, the last remaining First World War naval veteran, died on 5 May 2011.

Medals


Harry Patch received eight medals.

For his service in the First World War he received the British War Medal
British War Medal
The British War Medal was a campaign medal of the British Empire, for service in World War I.The medal was approved in 1919, for issue to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who had rendered service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918...

 and the Victory Medal.

In 1998, as a surviving veteran of the First World War who had fought for the Allies in France and Flanders, the President of the Republic of France appointed Patch a Knight of the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

. The award was presented to Patch on his 101st birthday. On 9 March 2009, Patch was appointed an Officer of the Légion d'honneur by the French Ambassador at his nursing home in Somerset.

On 7 January 2008, Albert II, King of the Belgians
Albert II of Belgium
Albert II is the current reigning King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. He is a member of the royal house "of Belgium"; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

, conferred upon Patch the award of Knight of the Order of Leopold. He received the award from Jean-Michel Veranneman de Watervliet, Belgium's Ambassador to the United Kingdom at a ceremony in the Ambassador's residence in London on 22 September 2008, which coincidentally was the 91st anniversary of the day he was wounded in action
Wounded in action
Wounded in action describes soldiers who have been wounded while fighting in a combat zone during war time, but have not been killed. Typically it implies that they are temporarily or permanently incapable of bearing arms or continuing to fight....

, and three of his closest friends killed.

At the end of the Second World War, Patch was awarded the 1939–45 Defence Medal. This medal was subsequently lost and, on 20 September 2008, at a ceremony at Bath Fire Station, Patch was presented with a replacement medal.

Patch also received two commemorative medals: the National Service Medal
National Service Medal (United Kingdom)
The National Service Medal is a recently issued unofficial commemorative medal sponsored by the Royal British Legion.The medal is issued to purchasers who served as National Service conscripts for the United Kingdom between 1939 and 1960...

 and the Hors de combat
Hors de combat
Hors de Combat, literally meaning "outside the fight," is a French term used in diplomacy and international law to refer to soldiers who are incapable of performing their military function. Examples include a downed fighter pilot, as well as the sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled...

 medal, which signifies outstanding bravery of servicemen and women who have sustained wounds or injury in the line of duty.

In accordance with his wishes, Harry Patch's medals are now on display at the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum in Bodmin
Bodmin
Bodmin is a civil parish and major town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated in the centre of the county southwest of Bodmin Moor.The extent of the civil parish corresponds fairly closely to that of the town so is mostly urban in character...

.

Ribbons





Death


Patch died at 9 am on 25 July 2009, aged 111 years, one month, one week and one day. This was also seven days after the death of fellow veteran Henry Allingham
Henry Allingham
Henry William Allingham was a British supercentenarian, First World War veteran and, for one month, the verified oldest living man in the world...

, who was at the time aged 113. The Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 led the tributes to him, saying: "Today, nothing could give me greater pride than paying tribute to Harry Patch, of Somerset." Patch was the last male First World War veteran living in Europe, and the last verified remaining British male to have been born in the 1890s.

Funeral


Patch's funeral was held in Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral in Wells, Somerset, England. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who lives at the adjacent Bishop's Palace....

 on Thursday 6 August 2009. At 11.00 am, the bells of Wells Cathedral were rung 111 times to mark each year of his life. A quarter peal of Grandsire Caters was also rung, half muffled, while quarter-peals were also rung in Bristol and at several other churches around the country. His coffin travelled from his home, Fletcher House, to the cathedral where the service commenced at noon. The theme of the service was "Peace and Reconciliation" and in addition to pallbearers from The Rifles
The Rifles
The Rifles is the largest regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five regular and two territorial battalions, plus a number of companies in other TA battalions, Each battalion of the Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light...

 (the successor regiment to the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry), Patch's coffin was accompanied by two private soldiers from each of the armies of Belgium, France and Germany. In accordance with Patch's instructions, no guns were allowed at the funeral and even the officiating soldiers did not have their ceremonial weapons.

Due to the high levels of interest in the funeral, which was broadcast live on TV and radio, a total of 1,050 tickets were made available for the service. Some, wanting to pay their respects, slept overnight on the Cathedral Green in order to get tickets. The funeral was led by the Dean of Wells
Dean of Wells
The Dean of Wells is the head of the Chapter of Wells Cathedral in the Mendip district of Somerset, England. The current Dean is the Very Revd John Clarke, who lives in The Dean's Lodging, 25 The Liberty, Wells.-List of the Deans of Wells:*1140–1164 Ivo...

, The Very Revd John Clarke
John Clarke (Dean of Wells)
The Very Rev. John Martin Clarke is the current Dean of Wells. He was born on 20 February 1952 and attended West Buckland School, Hertford College, Oxford and Edinburgh University. After a period of study at Edinburgh Theological College he was ordained in 1977...

 and the Bishop of Taunton
Bishop of Taunton
The Bishop of Taunton is an episcopal title used by a suffragan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells, in the Province of Canterbury, England. The title was first created under the Suffragan Bishops Act 1534 and takes its name after Taunton, the county town of Somerset.The...

, The Rt Revd Peter David Maurice
Peter David Maurice
Peter David Maurice is the current Bishop of Taunton.He was educated at Durham University and The College of the Resurrection, Mirfield...

. Among notables to attend the funeral were The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duchess of Gloucester.

Patch was buried at St Michael's Church, Monkton Combe
St Michael's Church, Monkton Combe
St Michael's Church is the Church of England parish church of Monkton Combe, Somerset, England. It is a Grade II listed building.-Background:The structure is mostly mid-Victorian...

, near his parents and brother.

Legacy


Race horse trainer and owner Michael Jarvis
Michael Jarvis
Michael Jarvis was a Thoroughbred horse trainer in England. Based in Newmarket, Jarvis trained numerous Group One winners including three winners of the British Haydock Sprint Cup. Jarvis's horses also won important races in Ireland, Germany and Italy. He kept approximately 80 horses in...

 named a horse after Patch in 2008. Having bought the horse in October 2007, during that year's Poppy Appeal, the Newmarket trainer decided to name him after a First World War veteran. Michael's daughter suggested Patch after reading an article about him. The horse won the 1.30 at Doncaster racecourse
Doncaster Racecourse
Doncaster Racecourse is a racecourse in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. It hosts two of Great Britain's 31 Group 1 flat races, the St Leger Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy.- History :...

 on 8 November 2008, the day before Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance Sunday
In the United Kingdom, 'Remembrance Sunday' is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day. It is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m...

.

A commemorative plaque in Patch's memory is to be placed on the Guildhall
Guildhall, Bath
The Guildhall in Bath, Somerset, England was built between 1775 and 1778 by Thomas Baldwin to designs by Thomas Warr Attwood. It has been designated as a Grade I listed building....

 in Bath.

The BBC commissioned Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009...

, the Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom
The Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, also referred to as the Poet Laureate, is the Poet Laureate appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom on the advice of the Prime Minister...

, to write a poem to mark the deaths of Patch and Henry Allingham (who died one week before Patch, on 18 July 2009). The result, Last Post
Last Post (poem)
"Last Post" is a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, in 2009. It was commissioned by the BBC to mark the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, two of the last three surviving British veterans from the First World War, and was first broadcast on the BBC...

, was read by Duffy on the Today programme
Today programme
Today is BBC Radio 4's long-running early morning news and current affairs programme, now broadcast from 6.00 am to 9.00 am Monday to Friday, and 7.00 am to 9.00 am on Saturdays. It is also the most popular programme on Radio 4 and one of the BBC's most popular programmes across its radio networks...

on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 on 30 July 2009, the day of Allingham's funeral.

On 5 August 2009, Radiohead
Radiohead
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke , Jonny Greenwood , Ed O'Brien , Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway .Radiohead released their debut single "Creep" in 1992...

 released the song "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
"Harry Patch " is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. The band wrote and recorded the song as a tribute to the British supercentenarian Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to have fought in the trenches during World War I...

", in tribute to the recently deceased Patch. Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke
Thom Yorke
Thomas "Thom" Edward Yorke is an English musician who is the lead vocalist and principal songwriter for Radiohead. He mainly plays guitar and piano, but he has also played drums and bass guitar...

 explained that the song was inspired by "a very emotional interview with him" in 2005, on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. The song was sold direct from Radiohead's website for £1, with proceeds donated to the British Legion.

In early summer 2009, Harry recorded some spoken word parts for UK heavy metal band Imperial Vengeance
Imperial Vengeance
Imperial Vengeance are an English heavy metal band, from Essex formed in 2007 by former Cradle of Filth guitarist C. Edward Alexander , and David Bryan...

, to be included on the title track to the album At the Going Down of the Sun. The song was about the horrors of the trenches and Patch read part of the poem For the Fallen.

Former UK Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

, Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion
Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL is an English poet, novelist and biographer, who presided as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.- Life and career :...

 composed a poem, The Death of Harry Patch, which he read for the first time on The World at One
The World At One
The World at One, or WATO for short, is BBC Radio 4's long-running lunchtime news and current affairs programme, which is broadcast from 1pm to 1:30pm from Monday to Friday. The programme describes itself as "Britain's leading political programme. With a reputation for rigorous and original...

Radio 4 programme on Armistice Day
Armistice Day
Armistice Day is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day...

 2010.

See also


External links