The Daily Telegraph reports that Harry Patch, last or next-to-last surviving British veteran of the First World War, died yesterday at the age of 111. I had a long post prepared on Mr. Patch, his wounding near Ypres in 1917, the deaths of his friends, and some thoughts on the First World War as the agent of ruination of modern civilzation. However, on second though I'll leave you with his Telegraph obituary (and another from the New York Times this morning) which together cover the ground well enough; as well as these words from one of Patch's fellow soldiers:
When the Last Long Trek is Over
When the last long trek is over,
And the last long trench filled in,
I’ll take a boat to Dover,
Away from all the din;
I’ll take a trip to Mendip,
I’ll see the Wiltshire downs,
And all my soul I’ll then dip
In peace no trouble drowns.
Away from noise of battle,
Away from bombs and shells,
I’ll lie where browse the cattle,
Or pluck the purple bells.
I’ll lie among the heather,
And watch the distant plain,
Through all the summer weather,
Nor go to fight again.
Written near Arras, France, by Alec deCandole, Lieutenant (4th Bn., Wiltshire Rgt., attached 49th Coy., Machine Gun Corps) on 2 September 1918. Killed in action near Bonningues-lès-Ardres, France, 4 September 1918, age 21.