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The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry…

The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Only Surviving…

by Harry Patch, Richard Van Emden (Author)

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2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war . Over the four year period 1914 to 1918 huge numbers of men fought and were killed in a relentless pulverizing of men in trenches by machine gun fire ... Millions of young men from all nations were lost in their prime . it was pointless and unforgivable . To have survived the war was a miracle and a matter of some surprise to the man himself, Harry Patch was one such veteran who survived to return to civilian life as a plumber and family man . What was even more remarkable was his longevity .He lived until 2009 and died aged 111, the oldest and only surviving soldier of the great war . He was Britsin's oldest man . He was given a grand ceremonial funeral and his obituary appeared in The Economist . Patch achieved fame in old age simply as a surviver and as a man who carried the memory and flame of life for the many who had died so wastefully in foreign fields . He wore his red armistice poppy with greater pride than his service medals . This is his autobiography published in 2007 and written with the help of recorded memories given to Richard van Emden , who has written movingly of [ the Boy Soldiers of The Great War ] . This is the story of an ordinary working class man who lived in extraordinary times . His was not a literary voice capturing the moment as happened in the words of the war poets of the First World War. His autobiography is that of a man who had an excellent memory , but buried those memories deep in his subconscious and who for decades did not speak of his war experiences . Only when he reached an immense old age was he discovered by the media He recalls and remembers events , fighting , the battle scene and what trench warfare was really like with great accuracy . In old age he was still angry and critical of military and political leadership . . He fought in , was wounded and survived the battle of Passchendale . His story for me is a personal one as my grandfather was killed in that same battle . Harry's story goes on to tell about recovery , convalescence, demobilization and a return to civilian life . he fought for his country but at the age of 20 could still not vote in the first post war election in Britain . His post war life was almost an anti climax though he went on to serve on the home front in the second world war . This memoir in a way was written too late in the author's life but then he never intended to be a writer and was not a diarist . His fame was an accidental consequence of unique survival . he was a special man , clearly loved by his Neighbours and friends . It is a worthy memory of a soldier of a war that is now a century past that it has become ancient history and there are no longer any men alive who fought in that war. ( )
  Africansky1 | Dec 10, 2013 |
I saved this for now as it is the 90th anniversary of the end of WWI. It is amazing how clear Harry's memories are and in what fine fettle he is considering his great age. The most remarkable thing about him is that he was an unremarkable man in remarkable, indeed shattering and horrific, times. Worth reading for a century and more of an ordinary man's life and memories. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 12, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harry Patchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emden, Richard VanAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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'The Last Fighting Tommy' tells the extraordinary and moving story of a man whose life has spanned six monarchs and 20 Prime Ministers.

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