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Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving soldier of the Great War, died at 111.
It was only when he turned 100 that the veteran of Ypres began to speak about the horrors he had seen.
100 years after “The War to End All Wars”, war has NOT ended.
Has the sacrifice of those who gave their lives been betrayed by our failure to end war?
“When the war ended, I don’t know if I was more relieved that we’d won or that I didn’t have to go back. Passchendaele was a disastrous battle—thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry. Earlier this year, I went back to Ypres to shake the hand of Charles Kuentz, Germany’s only surviving veteran from the war. It was emotional. He is 107. We’ve had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it’s a licence to go out and murder. Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn’t speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?”
“We came across a lad from A company. He was ripped open from his shoulder to his waist by shrapnel and lying in a pool of blood. When we got to him, he said: ‘Shoot me’. He was beyond human help and, before we could draw a revolver, he was dead. And the final word he uttered was ‘Mother.’ I remember that lad in particular. It’s an image that has haunted me all my life, seared into my mind”.
“’War is organized murder and nothing else”.
“Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder”.
“Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims”.
(extracts from Harry Patch’s book The Last Fighting Tommy)
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