The last of the many: The only three surviving British WWI veterans remember the millions who fell
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:45 PM on 11th November 2008
Heads bowed in memory, three of the surviving veterans of World War I joined serving soldiers to mark the 90th anniversary of the day peace finally returned to Europe.
Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108, led the nation as it remembered the sacrifices made by the 1914-1918 generation.
All three men laid wreaths at the Cenotaph in Central London to commemorate Armistice Day. On the wreath laid by Prince William was a very personal message which read: ‘For Jo, Lex and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.’
And on the stroke of 11am the nation stopped to mark the moment – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – in 1918 that the war ended.
Time to reflect: Observing the two minute silence at the Cenotaph were surviving veterans Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108, (left to right).
World War I veterans Bill Stone, 108, and Harry Patch, 110, (left to right) are followed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown during the service. Below, Mr Patch reacts during the service
The men each represented the armed service they belonged to – the Royal Air Force for Mr Allingham, the Army for Mr Patch and the Royal Navy for Mr Stone.
Heroes of today’s armed forces accompanied the three men to the Cenotaph – Marine Mkhuseil Jones (Military Cross), Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry (Victoria Cross) and Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman (Distinguished Flying Cross).
They were joined by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Defence Secretary John Hutton, the Duchess of Gloucester and thousands of members of the public.
This will almost certainly be the last significant anniversary that any of those who fought in World War I.
Of the five million men and women who served in Britain’s armed forces in the war, only four are still alive.
The other surviving veteran, Claude Choules, 107, lives in Australia and will mark the 90th anniversary at events there.
Last Tuesday, Sydney Lucas, originally from Leicester, who was just 17 when he was conscripted as a soldier with the Sherwood Foresters regiment, died in Australia aged 108.
Mr Patch was a machine-gunner in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and fought during the Battle of Passchendaele in Ypres, which claimed the lives of more than 70,000 soldiers.
He served in the trenches as a private from June to September 1917.
Prince William’s personal message on his wreath made reference to people he has known who have lost their lives