Last Tommy Harry Patch joins tragic Big Brother star Jade Goody on celebrity list
FIRST World War veteran Harry Patch has been honoured in a new edition of a guide to Britain's most important people.
The unassuming one-time plumber, who trained at E R Carter in Hendford, Yeovil, is among 225 contemporary figures in the January 2013 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
He and the other two longest-lived survivors of the Great War, Henry Allingham and Bill Stone, join people as varied as football manager Sir Bobby Robson and Big Brother celebrity Jade Goody in the volume – reflecting the fact that they all died in the year 2009.
Mr Patch, who was born in Combe Down, died in July 2009, aged 111 – seven days after the death at the age of 113 of his fellow veteran Mr Allingham.
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At the time, the First World War private who was injured at Passchendaele in 1917, was the oldest man not just in Britain but in Europe.
Since 2008 he had been the only living veteran of any nationality to have served in the trenches.
It was only on his 100th birthday that Mr Patch first came to the spotlight as one of the last veterans of the First World War.
The Oxford DNB records that for 80 years, following his return from the Western Front, Mr Patch – who had been a fireman in Bath during the Second World War – had lived "an unremarkable life as a West Country plumber", working in Yeovil, Bath, Bristol and Street.
It says: "Interest in the surviving veterans in the early 21st century brought him to public attention, though Patch was a reluctant representative of this wartime generation.
"Openly dismissive of national remembrance, Patch never lost an opportunity to condemn warfare, berate those who created conflict, and to remind audiences that all soldiers were victims.
"Patch's own 'remembrance day' was not November 11, but September 22 – the day in 1917 when he was wounded and his 'pals' killed by an explosion."
It said his funeral, which was broadcast live from Wells Cathedral, reflected his belief that all those who fought in wars were victims. Mr Patch is buried at Monkton Combe.