Thursday, 5 May 2011

Last serviceman to witness Scapa Flow scuttle passes away

The last serviceman to witness the surrender of the German Grand Fleet in the Firth of Forth in 1918 and then its scuttling at Scapa Flow in Orkney in 1919, passed away in Australia yesterday at the age of 110.

British-born Claude Choules had joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15, lying about his age, and saw action in the North Sea on the Rosyth based HMS ‘Revenge’. Now nearly 93 years after the guns fell silent, the final combat veteran of the First World War has passed away.

As historians we should perhaps be used to events slipping from living memory, but the First World War carries such a large footprint, not only in the subject we devote time to, but in our everyday lives, that the passing of the final veteran should feel somehow different and deserves to be marked in some way.

As the oft-repeated words say: We Will Remember Them

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