The last surviving UK soldier to have served in the trenches during World War One has been bestowed with France's highest decoration in a ceremony conducted at his nursing home in Somerset yesterday, Monday 9 March 2009.
At 110 years old, Harry Patch known as 'The Last Fighting Tommy' was awarded the Légion d'honneur medal by the French Ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne for his participation at Ypres during the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, which saw the death of 70,000 British troops.
Mr Patch was conscripted to the British Army in 1917 and was recruited to The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry as a Lewis gunner assistant. In the four months he spent as a Private, Mr Patch was involved in some of the fiercest fighting of WWI before a light shell exploded above his head and ended his military career.
Over the years Mr Patch has received various honours including the British War and Victory medals, the Chevalier of the Order award and has been granted the Freedom of The City of Wells.
The Légion d'honneur is the highest decoration in France and Henry Allingham, the other surviving British veteran of World War One, will also be honoured with the award next week.
Wikipedia has an article about Mr Patch here (and one about Mr Allingham here).