Poignant and fascinating memoir from one of the the last veterans of the trenches.
When Harry Patch wrote his memoir in 2007, he was the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of the First World War. He was 109 years old and one of very few people who could directly recall the horror of that conflict. Born in 1898, Harry spent a rural childhood in Somerset before leaving school in 1913 to become a plumber. Three years later he was fighting in the mud and trenches during the Battle of Passchendaele. He saw a great many of his comrades die, and in one dreadful moment the shell that wounded him killed his three closest friends. He vividly describes the terror and intensity of daily life in the trenches.
The Second World War saw Harry in action on the home front as a fire-fighter during the bombing of Bath. Late in life Harry achieved fame, meeting the Queen and taking part in the BBC documentary THE LAST TOMMY, finally shaking hands with a German veteran of the artillery, and speaking out frankly to Prime Minister Tony Blair about the soldiers shot for cowardice in the First World War.
Sadly, Harry passed away in July 2009, aged 111 years old. His funeral in Wells cathedral was attended by over a thousand people, while many more lined the streets to pay their last respects to an ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life.
How small it made me feel to witness the quiet dignity and magnanimity of this truly heroic, very ordinary but extraordinary man. He was not unique among millions of his comrades who endured that prolonged and supreme test of nerve and courage. But, uniquely, as the last survivor, he embodies them all. - Neil Hamilton, Sunday Express
An 'extraordinary autobiography....a moving, non-sentimental account by the very last witness of a devastating four years in Britain's history. - Val Hennessy, Daily Mail
Patch's voice sounds clearly in these pages, bringing it fleetingly and touchingly back to life. - Peter Parker, Daily Telegraph