Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

WWI veteran's tribute to comrades

Harry Patch
Mr Patch did not speak about WWI until he turned 100 years

The last British veteran of the World War I trenches has laid a wreath in honour of his fallen comrades at a Remembrance service in Wells, Somerset.

Harry Patch, 110, who fought in the battle of Passchendaele said: "It was 90 years ago. But you can't forget it."

After the service at St Cuthbert's Church Mr Patch laid a tribute on behalf of the Wells Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Later he joked: "It's too much fuss about nothing. I just did my duty."

Mr Patch was then wheeled half-a-mile uphill to the Bishop's Palace, as part of a parade which included representatives from HMS Somerset and The Rifles.

Bravery praised

After the service Mr Patch, who struggles to hear, was asked what was going though his mind during the service.

He said: "I was thinking about my three mates that I lost. They were just like me - civilians."

During the ceremony, Mr Patch's bravery was praised by lay reader Alastair Glanvile who gave the sermon.

Speaking to the 500-strong congregation, Mr Glanvile said: "We are honoured and pleased this morning to welcome Harry Patch. Harry symbolises the men who died and the men who came home from the conflict."

He added: "We are the tomorrow that Harry Patch and his comrades fell for, that Harry and his comrades fought for. We are also the tomorrow of men who fell in the Second World War and the conflicts since."

Harry, who has the Freedom of the City of Wells, is the second oldest person in Britain behind Henry Allingham, 112, who served in France with the Royal Naval Air Service and did not take part in trench fighting.

Mr Patch, who grew up in Coombe Down near Bath, and now lives in a Somerset nursing home, never spoke in public about WWI until he turned 100.

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Glasgow Herald 110-year-old WWI veteran: I just did my duty - 34 hrs ago
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Rye and Battle Observer Last Tommy remembers fallen comrades - 40 hrs ago
Bristol Evening Post Harry Patch remembers friends lost in World War I as services are held across the West - 40 hrs ago
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