In Memory…

25 07 2009

In the course of the past two weeks the last two British survivors of the First World War have both died. The oldest, Henry Allingham died last week, and today Harry Patch has, so we are told, peacefully passed away. It is truly the end of an era.

I read somewhere after the death of Mr Allingham, that these men were not the bravest, not the best, not the most decorated, but simply the ones who had the misfortune of celebrity through being the last. Whilst I understood what the writer was driving towards, I also felt that he was being a touch unconsidered. These men deserved our respect, both in life and death. For someone to be so casually dismissive of them as simply the ‘last’ was somehow wrong. Yes, they were the last. But they still served on the front line. Mr Patch witnessed first hand the horror of Passchendaele. Mr Allingham was also involved in the Ypres offensives of 1917, but as part of the RFC.  They still had the memories, the atrocities, the pain of the experience, and I’m sure that would have gone with them to the grave.

I wish to say nothing more about them, except simply to express my own appreciation for these men, who were, of course part of a bigger picture, but were for a period, the last parts of this picture.

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