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110th birthday for proud veteran
2:30pm Friday 4th March 2011 in News
THE world’s last surviving male First World War veteran has celebrated his 110th birthday.
Claude Choules, who was born in Wyre Piddle, near Pershore, became the last surviving Briton to serve in the First World War after the death of veteran Harry Patch in 2009.
He is also the only man left who saw active service in both wars and is believed to be the oldest living man born in the United Kingdom.
He celebrated his birthday with three generations of his family at the nursing home where he lives in Perth, Australia.
Navy officers also joined a party of about 40 people although Mr Choules said he “did not want a fuss”.
His health has deteriorated over the last year and he is now blind and almost deaf.
Mr Choules was born in 1901 and joined the Royal Navy in 1916 when he served on HMS Revenge.
He is the only remaining witness to the surrender of the German fleet in 1918 and the scuttling of their ships at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
In 1926 he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and in the Second World War was an acting torpedo officer and chief demolition officer on the western side of the Australian continent.
He later joined the Naval Dockyard Police (NDP) with which he served until his retirement aged 55.
Despite his long and distinguished naval career, Mr Choules has become increasingly pacifist.
He has refused to march in Anzac Day parades in Australia and does not mark Remembrance Sunday.
His family has said they want Mr Choules to be remembered as a sensitive family man and a dedicated seaman who despite 41 years of service strongly opposed war.
The only other male survivor of the First World War – in which more than 70 million people served – was American Frank Buckles, but he died on Sunday, also aged 110.
The only other survivor of the Great War is believed to be Florence Green of Norfolk, who served with the RAF in a non-combat role and is now aged 110.