Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

WWI veteran launches Poppy Appeal

Harry Patch fought on the Western Front in WWI
Mr Patch said he did not want to fight but he had to

The last surviving British soldier to fight in the trenches of World War I is to launch the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Somerset.

Harry Patch, 110, who was born in Combe Down, Bath, was a plumber by trade before being called up.

He was a private when he fought at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Mr Patch will be on board HMS Somerset at Avonmouth docks to see a Beaver plane drop hundreds of poppies in remembrance of fallen personnel.

There will also be a fly-past by the Army Air Corps Historic Aircraft Flight.

In his autobiography, The Last Fighting Tommy, he wrote: "I didn't want to go and fight anyone, but it was a case of having to.

"I mean, why should I go out and kill somebody I never knew and for what reason?"

In 1999 he received the legion d'honneur medal awarded by the French government to some 350 surviving WWI veterans who fought on the Western Front.

Mr Patch is the second oldest UK survivor from World War I.

The oldest is 112-year-old Henry Allingham, who fought in the Battle of Jutland rather than in the trenches like Mr Patch.



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