Harry Patch Memorial

Henry John “Harry” Patch (17 June 1898 – 25 July 2009), dubbed in his later years “the Last Fighting Tommy“, was a British supercentenarian, briefly the oldest man in Europe and the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country. He is known to have fought in the trenches of the Western Front.[1] Patch was the longest surviving combat soldier of World War I, but he was the fifth longest surviving veteran of any sort from World War I,

Patch died at 9 a.m. on 25 July 2009, aged 111 years, one month, one week and one day.

Patch’s funeral was held in Wells Cathedral on Thursday 6 August 2009.[42][43] At 11.00 a.m., 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 churches around the country.[44][45] His coffin travelled from his home, Fletcher House, to the cathedral where the service commenced at noon.[46] The theme of the service was “Peace and Reconciliation” and in addition to pallbearers from The Rifles (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.[43]

Harry Patch Memorial

16 Comments CherryPie on Aug 9th 2016

16 Responses to “Harry Patch Memorial”

  1. I have Harry Patch’s biography and always enjoyed listening to him when he was interviewed toward the end of his life. He was a decent, brave, man – as they all were; I don’t know how any of them coped. But it seems slightly wrong, though maybe inevitable, that he is defined in our eyes by those few short years he spent in the middle of a violent storm, as a soldier, rather than by the 100+ years doing other things? He was married, for example, for 60 years. He helped build things. Just a thought…

    • CherryPie says:

      I haven’t read Harry’s biography but I have read the biography (First Wave) of Reg Payne who served on Bomber Command.


      You are right when you say that Harry shouldn’t be defined by his war years. Both Harry and Reg were born in an era which led them into military service. They were lucky to survive and they both knew that. Their experiences shaped what they did after their war experiences.

      I recently had a random encounter with Kenneth Ballantyne, the author of First Wave. He had a stand in a local garden centre and I was able to purchase a related biography ‘Another Dawn Another Dusk’. These books are a social history of a different era and so much more.

  2. lisl says:

    Harry Patch was taken to Monkton Combe Churchyard (near Bath) for burial. An amazing coincidence is that I was only looking at his grave yesterday. I may post the picture on shutterchance

  3. Ginnie says:

    “111 years, one month, one week and one day.” OMG. The stories he could tell!

  4. Ayush says:

    that is impressive and i am sure he had a whole bunch of interesting experiences, beyond the world war.

  5. Steve Hayes says:

    Live long and prosper!

  6. 111? It must be the water from Wells.

  7. Mandy says:

    What a wonderful man he must have been. I’ve found the comments to this post almost as interesting as the post itself. I never knew my great grandparents but so much of what I know about them is framed by their time during WWI, just like on my mum’s side it is from being refugees. That comment has really made me think now!

    • CherryPie says:

      I have enjoyed reading the comments too :-)

      I have stories from my grandparents and parents from WWI and WWII.

      I also know people who fled to England to keep their families safe from conflict in their own country. It is interesting to hear their stories.

  8. Such an interesting post and what a long life he led – he must have had so many memories. I always wish I had talked to my grandfather more about his WW1 experiences but he was never keen to talk about them. In fact, I was thinking recently (having attended quite a few World War One exhibitions) that I might do some research into his regiment.