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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 12:12 GMT
War veteran excited to see Queen
Harry Patch
Harry Patch was called-up for service in 1917, aged 18
One of the last surviving veterans of World War I has spoken of his excitement ahead of meeting his "old friend" the Queen.

Harry Patch, 109, from Wells, Somerset, is a special guest of honour at the Royal Festival of Remembrance at London's Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.

"It is an honour to be invited to meet the Queen again," said Mr Patch, who last met Her Majesty at a garden party.

Mr Patch said the service was for the "heroes who did not come home".

"It's going to be a very tiring day - I will rest on Remembrance Sunday," he said from his nursing home in Somerset.

Bloody battles

"Today is not for me, it is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes.

"It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides," said Mr Patch.

You had two choices, go over the top or be shot for cowardice
Harry Patch

"I met someone from the German side and we both shared the same opinion - we fought, we finished and we were friends - it wasn't worth it."

Mr Patch was called up for service in 1917 when he was working as an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath.

Within weeks he was taking part in one of the most bloody battles of the Great War at Passchendaele near the Belgian town of Ypres.

He was number two of a five-man machine gun team. 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.

"If any man tells you he went into the front line and he wasn't scared, he's a liar," he added.

"You had two choices, go over the top or be shot for cowardice, and just about six seconds to make your mind up," he said.



SEE ALSO
War veteran's tribute to fallen
27 Oct 07 |  Somerset
WWI veteran names RNLI lifeboat
20 Jul 07 |  Somerset
WWI veteran celebrates 109 years
17 Jun 07 |  Somerset

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