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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
WWI veteran names RNLI lifeboat
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 has named the lifeboat he helped pay for.

Harry Patch, of Somerset, who recently turned 109-years old, named his gift to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Poole, Dorset, on Friday.

The ceremony for the "Doris and Harry D Class" lifeboat was held at the charity's headquarters.

The lifeboat was bought using the proceeds of a book based on Mr Patch's memories of the Great War.

It will enter the RNLI's relief fleet of lifeboats based around the coast at strategic locations.

A second lifeboat, the Tabbycat Atlantic 85, which was funded using a legacy was also be named during the event, which was staged in the evening.

Exploded shell

Sarah Sleigh, the RNLI's personal donations manager, said: "We rely on the public to ensure we are able to operate a lifeboat service 365 days of the year, and naming ceremonies such as these really help to show the generosity and dedication of our supporters."

Mr Patch, who served with the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry, was called up for service in 1917 when he was working as an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath.

Just a few weeks later he was fighting at Passchendaele, near the Belgian town of Ypres - described as one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the Great War.

During the fighting, Mr Patch was badly wounded and three of his best friends were killed when a shell exploded just yards from where he was standing.

The battle claimed the lives of more than 70,000 soldiers in just three months.

WWI veteran celebrates 109 years
17 Jun 07 |  Somerset


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