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In Memoriam - The Last Veterans of the Great War

All of the veterans of the Great War have "faded away." Most passed with little or no public notice. But as the centennial of the outbreak of the war began to loom, increasing attention was paid to the dwindling number of men and women who had served in it. As a result, it’s possible, with reasonable accuracy, to determine when the last veteran of most of the participating nations crossed the river, and in some cases even the last survivors of particular services or battles.

  • 1993 September 24: Danilo Dajković, at 98 the last known Montengran veteran.
  • 1995 September 6: Matsuda Chiaki, at 99 the last Japanese veteran of the war, in which he served as a naval cadet and then a junior officer, but did not see combat duty. In later life he commanded the battleship Yamato and rose to rear admiral.
  • 1998 March 14: Zita of Bourbon-Parma, sometime Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1916-1918), 96, the last political figure from the war.
  • 1998 June: Saci Ben Hocine Mahdi, 100, in France, the last survicing tirailleur algerienne
  • 1998 October 11: Abdoulaye N'Diaye, 104, in Senegal, the last surviving tirailleur sénégalais.
  • 1999 April 11: Wallace Pike, 99, last veteran of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served at the Somme and the last Newfoundlander to have served in the war.
  • 2000 March: Norman Kark, 102, the last South African veteran.
  • 2001 June 22: Bertie Felstead, 106, formerly of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the last known English survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914.
  • 2002 January 12: Robert Francis Ruttledge, 103, the last British veteran of the Indian Army.
  • 2003 February 12: Bright Williams, 105, the last New Zealand veteran, of the 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
  • 2003 March: George Blackman, 105, in Barbados, the last veteran of the West India Regiment
  • 2003 May 5: José Ladeira, at 107, the last Portuguese veteran.
  • 2003 August 9: Alois Vocásek, 107, the last veteran of the Czechoslovak Legion.
  • 2003 August 9: Charlotte Louise Berry Winters, 109, the last U.S. Navy “Yeomanette” and the last American woman veteran of the war.
  • 2003 October 9: Yod Sangrungruang, 106, the last veteran from Siam.
  • 2004 June 22: Aleksa Radovanović, at 105, the last veteran of the Serbian Army, and apparently the last veteran of the Salonika Front.
  • 2004 September 16: Cyrillus-Camillus Barbary, who died in the U.S. at 105, was the last Belgian veteran.
  • 2005 October 18: William Evan Crawford Allan, at 106, sometime Royal Australian Navy (1914-1948), the last Australian veteran to have seen active service in both world wars.
  • 2005 November 21: Alfred Anderson, 109, a veteran of the Black Watch, he was the last survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914, the last Scottish veteran of the war, and the oldest man in Scotland.
  • 2006 March 4: August Bischof, 105, the last known veteran of the Austrian Empire.
  • 2007 January 9: Gheorghe Pănculescu, 103, the last Romanian veteran of the Great War, though he did not see frontline service; he later rose to general.
  • 2007 March 29: Lloyd Brown, at 109, the last US Navy veteran.
  • 2008 January 1: Erich Kästner, at 107 the last German veteran of the Great War and the last Central Powers veteran of the Western Front.
  • 2008 January 12: Stanisław Wycech, 105, the last veteran of the Polish armed forces.
  • 2008 April 2 : Yakup Satar, at 110 the last veteran of the Ottoman Army.
  • 2008 May 7: Franz Künstler, who died at 107 in Germany, was the last veteran from the erstwhile lands of the Crown of Hungary, the last Austro-Hungarian veteran, and last Central Powers veteran of the Great War.
  • 2008 March 12: Lazare Ponticelli, who died in France at 110, was the last French Foreign Legion veteran of the war (1914-1915), the next-to-last Italian veteran (1915-1918) and probably also the last “Boy Soldier” of the war, having enlisted at 16.
  • 2008 October 6: Delfino Borroni, at 110 the last know Italian Great War veteran, the last veteran of the Alpine Front, and at his death the oldest man in Italy.
  • 2008 November 20: Pierre Picault, at 109 the last French veteran of the war, and at his death the oldest man in France.
  • 2008 December 26: Mikhail Efimovich Krichevsky, who died in Ukraine at 111, was the last veteran of the Russian Imperial Army to have served in the war.
  • 2009 July 18: Henry Allingham, 113, the last Jutland veteran, the last veteran of the Royal Naval Air Service, the last original member of the RAF, and the oldest man in the world.
  • 2009 July 25: Henry John "Harry" Patch, at 111 "the Last Fighting Tommy", the last known veteran of the Western Front, and the oldest man in Europe.
  • 2010 January 18: John Henry Foster "Jack" Babcock, at 109 the last known Canadian veteran of the Great War, though he had not seen combat.
  • 2009 June 3: John Campbell "Jack" Ross, 110, the last Australian to have served during the war, though he had never left the Commonwealth.
  • 2011 May 5: Claude Stanley Choules, who died at 110 in Australia, was the last known combat veteran of the Great War, the last veteran of the Grand Fleet, the last naval veteran of the Great War, and the last veteran to fight in both World Wars.
  • 2011 February 27: Frank Woodruff Buckles, at 110 the last veteran of the American Expeditionary Forces in the First World War, an ambulance driver.
  • 2012 February 4: Florence Patterson Green, who died at 110, was the last veteran of the Women's RAF, 1918-1919, and the last person known to have served in World War I.

We’ve certainly missed a few, and the passing of some “last veterans” may never be noted, such as the last Askari of the German East African Schutztruppen or the last Indian veteran of the Indian Army, nor the last of the many men from various neutral countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, and so forth – who served as volunteers on one side or another in the war.


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