Harry Patch

Rank

Private

Service Number

29295

Dates of Service

1916-1919
In the end, Harry Patch became the focus not just of national but international attention. When he died in late July 2009, the link was finally broken with a generation of men who had served in the trenches of Northern France or Belgium or indeed of any of the other fronts across the globe that justified the Great War's other name, the First World War.
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Henry Allingham

Rank

Air Mechanic, 2nd Class later 1st Class

Service Number

208317

Dates of Service

1915-1919
Along with Harry Patch, Henry was one of the last two men to witness the carnage of the Western Front. However, unlike Harry, Henry never served in the trenches, rather he was well behind the line with the Royal Naval Air Service, and in his typical self-deprecating way he always said that his war was relatively easy and that it was the infantry who won the war.
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Arthur Barraclough

Rank

Private

Service Number

238014

Dates of Service

1916-1918
Arthur was surprised and curious to know how I knew about his flat feet, diagnosed when he joined the army in 1916. Flat feet did not preclude Arthur's service in the front line, far from it; he was wounded three times, but it was an 'affliction' that was pointed out on his enlistment papers, which also noted his job, a job that would become a lifetime career, hairdressing.
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Dick Baron

Rank

Private

Service Number

1629

Dates of Service

1914-1916
Dick Barron gave one of the best pieces to camera that I ever witnessed. He was being interviewed for a BBC1 two-part documentary about the last Great War veterans, broadcast in 1998. Dick was then nearly 103 years old and was recalling the moment when they had embarked for overseas service, in his case a passage that would eventually take him to the shores of Gallipoli.
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Andrew Bowie

Rank

Signaller

Service Number

22693

Dates of Service

1915-1919
He had not lived in Scotland since 1920, but Andrew Bowie, after 45 years in Yorkshire and a further 35 years in Harbord, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, could not have been mistaken for anything else but a pukka Scotsman: there was no other inflection in his voice than gentle east coast Scots.
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Stan Clayton

Rank

Signaller

Service Number

480143

Dates of Service

1915-1919
Stan Clayton was one of the very best. He lived on his own in a district of Sheffield and almost to the end of his life took the bus into town to do his own shopping and walked down to his nearest pub where he able to drink for free, a generous present given him on his hundredth birthday in recognition of his many years of sterling work as a driver at the local brewery. He had six years of free alcohol.
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Benjamin Clouting

Rank

Trooper later Corporal

Service Number

8292

Dates of Service

1913-1919
What chance that the world's last survivor of the first engagement of the war lived a couple of miles from your own house? Benjamin Clouting served as a 16 year old boy on the Western Front, setting sail with his regiment, the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards for France in mid-August 1914. His Squadron engaged the Germans on a road north of the Belgian town of Mons in the first action by the British Army on continental Europe since Waterloo. Ben witnessed it all, taking under cover a horse that belonged to Drummer Thomas, the man credited with firing the first shot.
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Vic Cole

Rank

Signaller later Lance Corporal

Service Number

1308

Dates of Service

1914-1918
There are some veterans who are disarmingly friendly and self-deprecating and Vic Cole was one of those. He served in the 1st Royal West Kent Regiment in Italy in 1917, having been transferred from the 7th RWKs after service on the Somme, and in the mid 1990s I met a man who had been in the same battalion at the same time. Vic was genuinely excited to know that there was another veteran of the battalion still alive. 'Ask him if he remembers me,' he said. 'I was court martialled in Italy and paraded before the battalion.....
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Norman Collins

Rank

2nd Lieutenant

Service Number

N/A

Dates of Service

1915-1919
The battlefield pressures placed squarely on the shoulders of young subalterns were exceptional in the Great War. Lads, some as young as seventeen, even sixteen, were given command of platoons with men under their command who were perhaps twice their age. Norman Collins was aged 19 when he went to France, a typical age for Second Lieutenants, but most would not expect to be thrown straight into a battle. He arrived on the Somme in late October and was given the responsibility - and, of course, it was a test of mettle - of going forward into the quagmire close to Beaumont Hamel to reconnoitre No Man's Land. This he did successfully and saw the terrain over which he would attack just a couple of weeks later.
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Thomas Dewing

Rank

Signaller

Service Number

85196

Dates of Service

1915-1919
An hour on the Somme haunted Thomas Dewing for the whole of his life. On the 1st July 1916 he was serving as a signaler, looking towards the front line position before the German-held village of La Boiselle. His Division, the 34th, was charged with taking the village and pressing on, but that morning's objectives in no way equated with results. Shortly before the attack, a mine was blown close to the German lines, the largest explosion on the Western Front. From a small redoubt, perhaps a thousand yards or more away from the line, Tom witnessed the explosion and the severe after-shock as the ground shook.
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Fred Hodges

Rank

Corporal

Service Number

57043

Dates of Service

1917-1919
Did he accidentally meet his wife Olive when he knocked her over on the winter ice of 1917/18 or, as Olive contended, was it deliberate? The fact that the two could still argue the point after around 80 years of marriage says something for their life-long partnership. They got together only after the war, for it was not wise to fall headlong for a lad who was about to go to war.
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Albert Marshall

Rank

Trooper

Service Number

1771

Dates of Service

1915-1919
As the number of those who served in the Great War declined to a mere handful, so veterans were able to claim certain records as their own. They may have been the last naval veteran, the last individual to win a medal for gallantry, the last to serve in the Middle East. So it was for Smiler Marshall who, at the age of 108, held three records: the last man to wear the 1914/15 Star, the last man to serve on the Somme, and, perhaps most significant for a man who had served in the Essex Yeomanry, the last man to have served in the cavalry.
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Henry 'Jack' Rogers

Rank

Private

Service Number

267760

Dates of Service

1914-1919
Trumpeted by his local newspaper as the Britain's oldest journalist, Jack Rogers regularly supplied a column of his thoughts and observations for publication. It appeared with a suitable photograph that appeared to show Jack in conversational full flow, and his stories were always entertaining. Then again, there was always something of the entertainer about Jack. He had been a member of an army entertainment troupe, not semi-professional but men drawn from the ranks of his own battalion in the Sherwood Foresters to entertain the troops when out on rest. He sang short snappy ditties and recited humorous poems, not all of which would translate to the modern age, but which, nevertheless, helped the men who served in the front line to forget the war, if only just for a moment.
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copyright © 2017 Richard van Emden   |    web design by teapot creative

Richard

Richard was born in Nottingham in 1965, and read Politics at Newcastle University, subsequently taking his MA and MPhil at the University of Reading veterans. He trained as a journalist and worked in London for two years before going to Cologne University and writing his first book veterans, Tickled to Death to Go veterans, the biography of Ben Clouting veterans, who took part in the first action of the Great War and served until the end veterans.
Harry was painted veterans, sculpted and had a racehorse named after him veterans. He met royalty and famous people who were keen to shake his hand veterans. Most he did not recognise, although he once claimed he knew members of the 70s folk band The Wurzles down in his home country of Somerset veterans. Only once, after shaking hands with Ringo Star veterans, did he show any sign of being impressed by the person he had just met. In the end veterans, Harry became better known than most representatives of the pop or acting world who fight so hard to maintain their public status.


Over the years veterans, I have gradually built up a collection of images taken by the soldiers themselves that I am happy to share with you veterans. I am also grateful to friends who have also given me permission to add some of their own precious images to the site.

Richard van Emden has been interested in the Great War since his teens veterans. He interviewed 270 veterans of the conflict and has so far written twelve books on the subject. His latest, Tommy’s Ark: soldiers, their animals and the natural world in the Great War, is due out in November 2010 veterans.

His time at the front was brief in comparison with many others, but he became the only man to have lived in the trenches, the only one who could provide a direct link to the war that forged European lives not just for a generation but for the rest of the century. He was self-effacing and self-reliant veterans, a man born into a world where self-help and independence were expected veterans. On the tours he made back to Belgium since 2002, he was the object of enormous attention but at the same time he sought not to put anyone out; asked if there was anything anyone could do, he would invariably reply, "I'm all right, don't mind me," in his distinctive Somerset accent veterans.

Me and my dad were getting ready to go to work and a knock came at the door and there was a telegram sudden just like, about 9 a.m., and it said sorry to tell you that your Harry's down at bottom [of the sea]. We read the bugger and we both collapsed. That finished my dad. He died in 1918, of course his grinding job didn't help veterans. But it nearly killed him that morning veterans. It upset the family a great deal veterans. It made me think a bit veterans. Everybody was wanting us, Kitchener was pointing, so I joined up. I wanted to avenge Harry's death. That was the main issue veterans.

Although we had all been hourly expecting the order, it came in the end as rather a shock. Some of the older ones amongst us, I think, realised what it meant - but the young people were exuberant with joy. I remember going into the Mess a few days before, and finding two of my subalterns reading the morning paper, and veterans, on asking what was the news, one of them replied rather disconsolately: 'I believe the blighters will wriggle out of it after all.' That was their only fear veterans.

This book tells the story of all the creatures, great and small, that inhabited the strip of murdered earth that snaked hundreds of miles from the Belgian coast to the Swiss Alps. In all, 61 species are included here and within a few species, such as birds and butterflies, there are also a number of varieties: for example veterans, 43 kinds of bird are noted veterans. Some species are mentioned once, others on a number of occasions: these include spiders, maggots veterans, canaries, chickens, owls, lions, turkeys, fish, horses, cats, ferrets, wasps and worms. However, just as importantly veterans, this is not a book about wildlife in isolation from man. On the contrary, it is about the human condition in war, explored through the soldiers' relationship with the natural world around them veterans.

Richard

Richard vanEmden

In 1994, Richard came back to the UK and began work for Testimony Films, acting as associate producer on the award-winning Roses of No Man’s Land and Veterans. Subsequently, he worked for the BBC on The Trench and for independent television companies, making documentaries for BBC1, BBC2, BBC4 and Channel 4. These include Britain’s Boy Soldiers, What did you do in the Great War, Daddy? and Horror on the Home Front veterans. He also co-presented The War Revolution, a Timewatch programme for BBC2.
Harry never had to fight for such a position. He liked the attention at times, although it could quickly wear thin, and he liked to meet people, although constant references to his wartime experiences became increasingly difficult. He had faced the demons of his war; he had talked his war out and had returned to the battlefields on half a dozen occasions; he had even met a German veteran. In the end, his war was about explaining to people how wasteful conflict is veterans, and that reconciliation between former enemies was ultimately important. Harry had a right to make his point. He had lost three close friends in the Battle of Passchendaele and he himself had been wounded. He had also, on the spur of the moment, wounded but refused to kill an enemy soldier running headlong in his direction, a decision he was, in later years, pleased with. When he met Charles Kuentz eightyfive years after conclusion of the war, he was able to touch glasses and exchange gifts in an act of fraternity which meant so much to him veterans.


The gallery will be divided into several sections and subsections. These will be expanded over time veterans. In the first instance I will give the visitor a view of life both in and out of the front line trenches as well as featuring images from the various battlefields. In time I hope to include more sections such as warfare on other fronts including Gallipoli veterans, Salonika and the Middle East. World War 1.

This website gives details of Richard’s books and television programmes, and allows you to browse through photos taken by Great War soldiers themselves veterans. You can meet some of Richard's veterans with brief biographies and view photos taken by Richard while accompanying veterans on his many trips to the battlefields of the Great War. The Great War Veterans.

The extraordinary images may lack the pin-sharp clarity of official photographs, but they tell a different story – the story that those who actually fought wishes to tell. Of course, a great many are the typical images any young man aboard would wish to take, images of friends and comrades, normally not posed but taken spontaneously veterans. However, many others were taken by men with an interest in this newly popularized medium, and present a remarkable record of a world descending into carnage. The Great War Veterans.

World War 1

World War I

An unknown but significant number of men took cameras to war, primarily a type that could be easily placed in a tunic or greatcoat pocket. The most common was known as a VPK, or Vest Pocket Kodak. Manufactured between 1912 and 1926, it was actually marketed during the war by Kodak as ‘the Soldier’s Camera’ because of its durable all-metal construction.  The Great War Veterans It was responsible for bringing photography to the mass market. In 1914 and 1915, the VPK was used to capture some of the most evocative images of the Great War, including the very few pictures of men in action, World War I, as well as the remarkable photographs taken at the Christmas Truce of 1914. World War I Veterans The Great War Veterans.

Albert Martin made a reluctant but idiosyncratic soldier. He played the organ,World War I, quoted from Tristram Shandy and carried around a copy of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice for preferred reading. World War I The Great War Veterans. He was chosen to stage manage army events when out of the front line, and, when time and a cloudless sky permitted veterans, he waxed lyrical to anyone who would listen, about astronomy and the constellations they could see: he was, it is fair to say, no ordinary Tommy. World War 1 The Great War Veterans.

Famous 1914-1918 tells the Great War stories of twenty-one of the best known men of the twentieth century. World War I. They are famous for a variety of reasons: for their work in literature and art, or for rising to the top of the political tree. Several went on to international acclaim as actors; another to posthumous fame for (perhaps) conquering Mount Everest thirty years before anyone else. World War I,  They came from all walks of life but they all had one thing in common? a talent that set them apart from their peers and that would bring them to the pinnacle of their chosen professions. World War I. The Great War Veterans

Ricahrd van Emden

Veterans

The British Government, fearful that the enemy could glean useful information from these pictures if they fell into their hands, banned the use of cameras on the battlefield. In a War Office Instruction dated 19.4.15, it was stated that ‘the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief, the British Army in the Field, prohibits the taking of photographs and the sending of drawings and photographs to the press, and by an Order issued on the 16th March, 1915 photographic cameras are not allowed to be in possession of officers, warrant officers, NCOs or men while serving with the British Army in the Field. The Great War Veterans.

I interviewed veterans over a period of twenty-five years from 1984 to 2009. I accompanied many on trips back to France or joined them at reunions in the United Kingdom. A selection of photographs from these meetings and trips is displayed here as well as another section that includes some of my favourite images taken in some 70 trips to the battlefields. World War 1

Civilians played a vital role on the war effort. Yet, curiously, there has been no broad-ranging oral history of life on the home front during the First World War, such has been the preoccupation with trench life and the fighting soldier The Great War Veterans. The civilians, the last survivors from those years, also have important and deeply moving stories to tell, essential in helping to chronicle those momentous years.

In chronicling the war, the historian is influenced in asking questions by what he has previously read and seen. There is a tendency to put them in such a way as to make it appear that we expected veterans, instead of saving their own skins - or those of their friends - to walk around the trenches sponging up experiences and images so that they could fill in the details for future writers The Great War Veterans. World War 1. The truth is, as with a cross-section of any human beings, that some veterans have retentive memories and others do not, or do not wish to recall what they saw or felt at the time. Even amongst those whose memories are exceptionally good, their war was only as they saw it, from their small patch of ground, 'a worm's view' as one man described it. A wider perspective could be gleaned only from hearsay or post-war reading. World War 1.

We found ourselves next morning in a drizzling autumn rain at Southampton Docks and there looming above us was the Aragon, a Royal Mail Steam Packet liner which had been converted to a troop ship. Just before we were about to start something happened which I will never forget. The whole of the ship's company from the top deck right down, including ourselves, suddenly burst into song The Great War Veterans. 'Homeland, homeland, when shall I see you again, land of my birth, dearest place on earth, I'm leaving you, oh it may be for years and it may be forever. Homeland, homeland.' Up to then the whole thing had been most enjoyable, but my heart stood still. I suddenly realized that this was warfare - I may not return, you know. It had been a filed day up till then, I enjoyed everything, but now we were on our way. World War 1 The Great War Veterans.

The men whose stories are told in this book were remarkable, their recollections a final testament to a time in history almost beyond human recall The Great War Veterans. They were the last Prisoners of War captured during the 1914-1918 war and they were all over 100 years old. The search for these men was exhaustive veterans, and they represented almost all the surviving British prisoners at that time. Sadly, even as I wrote, they faded away. World War 1. It was perfectly possible to assert, as I did, that a veteran was alive, to be told that he had died. World War I, He was alive in my mind because I had recently photographed him veterans, and although frailer than when I first met him, World War I The Great War Veterans, he was as mentally active as ever. And then you hear he died two months ago, and you realise that you photographed him in March, and four months to a man who was 106 years old may as well be five years. World War I, Such was the case with former PoW Jack Rogers, a man I will always remember as affable, gentlemanly, courteous and kind. World War 1 veterans The Great War Veterans.

Harry never had to fight for such a position The Great War Veterans. He liked the attention at times, although it could quickly wear thin, and he liked to meet people, although constant references to his wartime experiences became increasingly difficult veterans. He had faced the demons of his war; he had talked his war out and had returned to the battlefields on half a dozen occasions; he had even met a German veteran. World War 1 The Great War Veterans. In the end, his war was about explaining to people how wasteful conflict is, and that reconciliation between former enemies was ultimately important. Harry had a right to make his point veterans. He had lost three close friends in the Battle of Passchendaele and he himself had been wounded veterans. World War 1. He had also, on the spur of the moment, wounded but refused to kill an enemy soldier running headlong in his direction, a decision he was, in later years, pleased with veterans. World War I Veterans. World War I The Great War Veterans. When he met Charles Kuentz eightyfive years after conclusion of the war, he was able to touch glasses and exchange gifts in an act of fraternity which meant so much to him. World War 1 The Great War Veterans.

Emden