Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some day no one will march there at all.

The last World War I veteran in Britain, and the last man to have fought in the trenches, was laid to rest today. Harry Patch was a private in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. He arrived in France in June of 1917, and was wounded on September 22 by an artillery shell, which killed three of his comrades. His funeral was in Wells Cathedral in front of a crowd of 14oo, including the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Gloucester. Thousands more watched on big screens on the cathedral green. His pallbearers were, at his request, privates from the The Rifles, the successor unit to the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. The pallbearers were all about 19 years old, the age Patch was when he was wounded. His coffin was followed by soldiers from the armies of France, Belgium and Germany. A lesson was read by Dr Eckhard Lubkemeier, charge d'affaires at the German Embassy. An extract from Patch's biography, was read by the Belgian charge d'affaires, Marie-France Andre.

As the coffin left the cathedral, it paused and Last Post was played. An old friend of Patch read from the Ode of Remembrance: They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. and then read three names "Jack, Jill and Maudy." These were the nicknames of the three comrades killed by the shell that wounded Patch.

Patch selected the music for his funeral. In addition to his favorite hymns, the congregation sang "Where have all the flowers gone."

"Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one.

Harry Patch Requiescat in Pace

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