12 November 2008

WWI veterans at Remembrance Day ceremony

ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
The three last surviving British veterans from World War I were among political leaders, Service personnel, veterans and members of the public commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the end of World War I, today, Tuesday 11 November 2008.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, the guns of the western front fell silent. Six hours earlier the Armistice Treaty had been signed by the Allies and Germany in a railway carriage in a forest in France.


In Whitehall, London, thousands of people lined the streets to pay their respects to those who died during the Great War and to look on as the three last surviving British veterans from WWI laid wreaths in memory of their fellow servicemen at the Cenotaph.

Henry Allingham, Harry Patch and Bill Stone, who served during World War I, received a round of applause as they made their way past the crowds to pay their respects to the one million British and Commonwealth troops who died during the four years of conflict. A two minute silence was held at 1100 hrs.

Speaking at the service, Mr Patch said:
"I am very happy to be here today. It is not just an honour for me, but for an entire generation. It is important to remember the dead from both sides of the conflict. Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims."

ZUI also this article from The Telegraph:
The remarkable trio, the last historic focus for the commemoration, was led by Henry Allingham, Britain's oldest man at 112, an aircraft mechanic who saw action at sea, in the Battle of Jutland, and ashore on the Western Front.

Then there was Harry Patch, 110, a veteran of the horrors of Passchendaele, who is the only survivor of the trenches and Bill Stone, a relative junior at the age of 108, who ended up fighting two World Wars for the Royal Navy. Their faces a living memorial to the First World War, their presence a warning that the sacrifice of their colleagues they left behind should never be forgotten.

As a mark of respect the three men, covered in blankets in their wheelchairs to protect them from the biting wind, were accompanied by some of the most highly decorated serving personnel from the three Services.

L/Cpl Johnson Beharry, VC, helped lay the wreath for Mr Patch, who was injured in the bloody 1917 battle of Passchendaele. Mr Stone, the youngest veteran, was accompanied by Marine Mkhuseli Jones, MC. But it was down to the first female wearer of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Flt Lt Michelle Goodman, to help Mr Allingham place his memorial.

Additionally, ZUI this article from The Scotsman and this one (with additional photographs) from the Royal Air Force.

(left to right) The three surviving WWI veterans (in wheelchairs): Henry Allingham, with Flt Lt Michelle Goodman DFC (to Mr Allingham's left); Harry Patch, with L/Cpl Johnson Beharry VC (to Mr Patch's right); and Bill Stone, with Marine Mkhuseli Jones MC (to Mr Stone's right)

Update 1214 12 Dec 08: The picture below also came from the MOD Defence News.

Left to right: Mr Allingham, Mr Patch and Mr Stone.

MOD photographs © Crown Copyright/MOD 2008

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