Queen to attend service for last veteran of World War I

September 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm Leave a comment

harrypatch
A service to commemorate Harry Patch, the last British soldier to survive the First World War, will be held in Westminster Abbey next month, a defence minister has revealed.

Patch was the oldest man in Europe when he died on July 25 at the age of 111 years and 38 days.

He served in the trenches of the Western Front in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, having signed up at the age of 18.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Kevan Jones said in a written answer that Patch’s death “was a hugely significant milestone and one which the government have planned for some time to mark”.

A service will be held on November 11 in Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

“The service is to commemorate the passing of all who served,” Jones said.

“It will recognise not only the military contribution in the great war but also that of the civilian population who supported them at home.

“Attendance at the service will be by invitation only but we hope that a broad cross-section of the population of the United Kingdom, with links to the war, will attend.

“This is being organised through the Lord Lieutenants in each county.

“In addition, attendees will include members of the armed forces, government, ambassadors, high commissioners and other VIPs.

“World War One had an impact upon this country which endures today, over 90 years after it ended, and I hope that this service will be a fitting occasion when the nation can stand as one as it recognises the debt that we owe and reconfirms that ‘we will remember’ the generation that we have now lost.”

photo: SalientPoints@flickr.com

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