Veterans: The Last Survivors of the Great War
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At the time of his death, aged years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day, Harry was the third oldest man in the world. Tommy was years old when we filmed him in , a proud Cockney, still living independently in Basildon. As a patriotic year-old, Tommy had enlisted on a whim while crossing Tower Bridge on his way to work in He was in one of the few successful attacks on that disastrous day. So of course, I was one of the first to get up and over the top in my regiment. It was brilliant sunshine.
The bullets actually whizzed by my ears at one point — you know, ping, ping, ping. The Germans had mostly gone.
Last living U.S. World War I veteran dies
In the evening, I was detailed to bury the dead. But there you are, you had to do it. Soon afterwards, Tommy was taken as a prisoner of war and spent more than two years working in a German coal mine.
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The experience made him appreciate getting home safely to Blighty and the simple things in life. Tommy died a year after we filmed him, in Watch a sneak preview below:. He still lives an independent life, offering tea and biscuits when I arrived.
Veterans The Last Survivors of the Great War () | BFI
Bob wrote and self-published his life story in his th year. It is full of meticulous detail — as are his memories of the home front in Hull during the First World War. Bob was the son of a vet, one of seven children who grew up in an extended middle-class family.
His most vivid memories are of the Zeppelin raids on the city between and I remember, when the sirens went, my mother used to bring me and my brothers and sisters down from the attic where we slept and we were put underneath the dining room table. This was presumably for safety, in case a bomb dropped on us. Bob witnessed scenes of devastation in the streets of Hull when he made his way to school on the morning after the raids. Yet his most lasting memory of the aftermath of the raids reveals much about the Victorian values of respectability that were instilled into children of the time.
It had collapsed, and as we walked by we could see the wallpaper on the wall of the bedroom and there was a bed hanging partly over the destroyed floor as if somebody had only just escaped with their lives. Marjorie was the first nurse we filmed, in the mids. We interviewed her in a nursing home, where we were surprised to find her smoking in her room. She was an indomitable character from a well-to-do background, who had smoked since she was a teenager and had no intention of giving up now. I had to lug it with the foot sticking up all the way down to the incinerator.
You just carry on and do your duty. At the end of the interview, Marjorie lit up again. Sadly, she died a year later. His alcoholic son Denis, 66, died of cirrhosis in His brother, Roy, did not speak to Harry for 20 years. By Nigel Blundell. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights. Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice.
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