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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 June 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
WWI veteran celebrates 109 years
Harry Patch :Photograph by Niall Stewart and Richard Cable
Harry Patch was injured and lost three friends on the same day
The last known surviving British veteran of the World War I trenches is celebrating his 109th birthday.

Harry Patch from Wells, in Somerset, will have lunch with friends and family before returning to his residential home for a party.

Mr Patch served with the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry and saw action in the bloody Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

"There's no secret to enjoying a long life, just live a clean life," he said.

Mr Patch was called up for service when he was working as an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath.

Friends killed

Shortly afterwards he fought at Passchendaele, where more than 70,000 soldiers died in three months.

Heavy rain coincided with the opening assault producing thick, clinging mud.

Sharing his experience of the battle, Mr Patch said: "It was mud, mud and more mud mixed together with blood."

During the fighting Mr Patch was badly wounded and three of his best friends were killed when a shell exploded nearby.

"My remembrance day is on 22 September when I lost three mates," he said.

Harry Patch celebrates his 109th birthday


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