Last WW1 combat vet dies

Tipped off by the sudden increase in hits to my post about the last American WW1 vet to die, I did a little search. It turns out that the final combat veteran from WW1, Claude Choules of Britain, has died:

World War I was raging when Choules began training with the British Royal Navy, just one month after he turned 14. In 1917, he joined the battleship HMS Revenge, from which he watched the 1918 surrender of the German High Seas Fleet, the main battle fleet of the German Navy during the war.

“There was no sign of fight left in the Germans as they came out of the mist at about 10 a.m.,” Choules wrote in his autobiography. The German flag, he recalled, was hauled down at sunset.

“So ended the most momentous day in the annals of naval warfare,” he wrote. “A fleet of ships surrendered without firing a shot.”

He continued his military career, later moving to Australia,

Choules later joined the Royal Australian Navy and settled permanently Down Under, where he found life much more pleasant than in his home country.

“I was nobody,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio in November 2009 of his years in England. “But I was somebody here.”

During World War II, he was the acting torpedo officer in Fremantle, Western Australia, and chief demolition officer for the western side of the Australian continent. Choules disposed of the first mine to wash ashore in Australia during the war.

He later transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police and remained in the service until his retirement in 1956.

Choules remained active and healthy for most of his life,

Still, the aging process took its toll, and in recent years, he grew blind and nearly deaf. Despite that, his children say he retained his cheerful spirit and positive outlook on life.

“I had a pretty poor start,” he told the ABC in November 2009. “But I had a good finish.”

He was 110. The only other surviving service (not combat) member alive from WW1 now is Florence Green who served as a waitress in the Women’s Royal Air Force.

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