07 February 2012

RIP: Florence Green

Florence Green
19 Feb 1901 - 5 Feb 2012

The last known veteran of World War I has died, just two and a half years before the centennial of that war's beginning. ZUI this article from the Eastern Daily Press:
She passed away in her sleep at a care home in King’s Lynn just two weeks before her 111th birthday.

The great-grandmother was only 17-years-old when she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in the late summer of 1918.

Come the 11th day of the 11th month, she was working as a waitress at RAF Marham, when the pilots greeted news of the German surrender by clambering into their planes and bombing nearby RAF Narborough airfield with bags of flour.

Last year, she became the last surviving person to have seen active service in the first world war following the death of British-born sailor Claude Choules in Australia last year.


She married her husband Walter – a porter at King’s Lynn station – two years after the war. They had three children together, Mr Green passed away in 1970.

As well as her daughter May, she also leaves behind her youngest daughter, June Evetts, 76, who lives in Oundle, near Peterborough and a son, Bob, 86, who lives in Edinburgh. She is also survived by four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.


Mrs Green was only identified as a surviving war veteran in 2008, when a researcher of gerontology found her service record, listed under her maiden name, Patterson, at the National Archives.

Though she never saw the front line, her service in the WRAF qualifies her for veteran status.


The WRAF in which Mrs Green served was founded only months before she joined up. Its original intent was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men for service.

But the organisation saw huge enrolment, with women volunteering for positions as drivers and mechanics and filling other wartime needs.


History certainly records RAF Marham as a busy place to have served, as the battle in the skies grew in significance as the war progressed. FE2bs, RE7s, BE2s – wooden aircraft with engines less powerful than those on most modern motorbikes – set off for bombing raids throughout the day.

Today it is the base for four squadrons of Tornadoes, ground-attack aircraft that are still serving in Afghanistan. The pilots of these supersonic jets have rather different concerns than their First World War counterparts.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, Mrs Green was the sixth-oldest person in England at the time of her death.

Doesn't seem possible that it's been fifty years since was reading the WWI sesquitennial articles in Life magazine - I still remember the fold-outs and the pages full of photographs.

Edit 0951 17 Feb 12: ZUI also this article, with photographs, from the MOD Defence News.

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