List of last surviving World War I veterans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of the last known surviving veterans of the First World War (28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918) who lived to 2009 or later, along with the last known veterans for countries that participated in the war. Veterans are defined as people who were members of the armed forces of the combatant nations during the conflict, although some states use other definitions.

Florence Green, a British citizen who served in the Allied armed forces as a Royal Air Force (WRAF) service member, is generally considered to have been the last verified veteran of the war at her death on 4 February 2012, aged 110.[1][a] The last combat veteran was Claude Choules, who served in the British Royal Navy (and later the Royal Australian Navy) and died 5 May 2011, aged 110.[3] The last veteran who served in the trenches was Harry Patch (British Army), who died on 25 July 2009, aged 111. The last Central Powers veteran, Franz Künstler of Austria-Hungary, died on 27 May 2008 at the age of 107.

The total number of participating personnel is estimated by the Encyclopædia Britannica at 65,038,810. There were approximately 9,750,103 military deaths during the conflict.

Last surviving veterans of each country[edit]

Country[c] Veteran Death date Age
 Armenia[b] Senekerim Arakelian[4] 9 September 2000 98 years
 Australia[d] John Campbell Ross[5] 3 June 2009 110 years
 Austrian Empire[e] August Bischof[6] 4 March 2006 105 years
 Belgium Cyriel Barbary[f] 16 September 2004 105 years
Brazil Waldemar Levy Cardoso 13 May 2009 108 years
 Canada[d] John Babcock[9] 18 February 2010 109 years
 China Zhu Guisheng[10] 5 March 2002 106 years
 Czechoslovakian Legions[b] Alois Vocásek[11] 9 August 2003 107 years
France Pierre Picault[12][g] 20 November 2008 109 years
 German Empire Erich Kästner[13] 1 January 2008 107 years
 Kingdom of Hungary[e] Franz Künstler[14] 27 May 2008 107 years
 India Robert Francis Ruttledge[15] 12 January 2002 102 years
 Italy Delfino Borroni[16] 26 October 2008 110 years
 Japan Yasuichi Sasaki[17][a] 26 July 2006 108 years
 Montenegro Danilo Dajković[18] 14 September 1993 98 years
New Zealand[d] Bright Williams[19] 13 February 2003 105 years
 Newfoundland[d] Wallace Pike[20] 11 April 1999 99 years
 Ottoman Empire Yakup Satar[21] 2 April 2008 110 years
Poland[b] Stanisław Wycech[22] 12 January 2008 105 years
Romania Gheorghe Pănculescu[23] 9 January 2007 103 years
 Russian Empire Mikhail Krichevsky[24][25] 26 December 2008 111 years
 Serbia Aleksa Radovanović[26] 22 June 2004 103 years
Siam Yod Sangrungruang[27] 9 October 2003 106 years
 South Africa[d] Norman Kark[28][29] 30 March 2000 102 years
 United Kingdom Florence Green[30] 4 February 2012 110 years
 United States Frank Buckles[31] 27 February 2011 110 years

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 (aged 116) and who was the oldest verified man in history and the last verified man to have been born in the 19th century, served as a conscript in an Imperial Japanese Army communications unit in Tokyo from April 1–June 30, 1918; this was discovered by gerontology researchers verifying his life history.[2]
  2. ^ a b c d Accorded belligerent status at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
  3. ^ Other combatant countries included Bulgaria, Greece, the Kingdom of Hejaz,[b] and Portugal.
  4. ^ a b c d e A partially self-governing Dominion under the British Empire, foreign relations remained with the British government
  5. ^ a b Austria and Hungary were component, technically sovereign, nations within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  6. ^ At the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 102, Paul Ooghe was widely believed to be the last surviving Belgian veteran of the conflict.[7] Barbary, who had served in the Belgian army in the final months of the war and emigrated to the United States, was only subsequently recognised.[8]
  7. ^ Following the legal definition of a war veteran as a person having served for six months during the war years (for which Picault did not qualify), the French government officially recognized Lazare Ponticelli, who died on 12 March 2008, as the last poilu.

Veterans by country of service – 9 veterans who lived to 2009 or later[edit]

On 27 June 2006, the British Government approved a National Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey, to take place after the death of the last known World War I veteran from the United Kingdom. On 11 November 2009, despite the survival to that date of Claude Choules and Florence Green, the commemoration was held following the death of Harry Patch.[32] On 21 November 2006, the House of Commons of Canada approved a state funeral for the last World War I veteran to have served in the Canadian forces,[33] but this was declined by John Babcock.

Country served Name Born Died Notes
 Australia John Campbell Ross 11 March 1899 3 June 2009 (110) Last Australian digger and the last veteran of any status to serve Australia in the conflict. Joined in early 1918 as wireless operator, but did not see action. Served in Home Guard in World War II. Australia's oldest person. Lived in Bendigo, Victoria.[34][35][36][37]
Canada Canada John Babcock 23 July 1900 18 February 2010 (109) Last Canadian veteran. Declined state funeral. Joined in 1916. Served first in 146th, CEF, then transferred to Boys Battalion. Completed training in UK but did not see action due to age. Moved to US in 1924. Lived in Spokane, Washington.[38][39][40][41]
 United Kingdom Henry Allingham 6 June 1896 18 July 2009 (113) Last airman. Served in the 12 Squadron RNAS (later RAF). Joined in 1915 as mechanic. Last veteran of the Battle of Jutland. World's oldest man and oldest ever British man. Oldest veteran ever to see action. Lived in Brighton, Sussex.[42][43][44]
 United Kingdom Claude Choules 3 March 1901 5 May 2011 (110) Last living combatant of World War I.[45] Last seaman. Last veteran who served in both World Wars. Last male veteran. Joined in 1916. Last witness to the German Naval surrender. Moved to Australia in 1926 and served with Royal Australian Navy in World War II. Lived in Perth, Western Australia.[46][47][48]
 United Kingdom Florence Green 19 February 1901 4 February 2012 (110) Last female veteran and last officially recognized veteran. Worked as a waitress in the Royal Air Force; the Women's Royal Air Force.[49] Lived in North Lynn, Norfolk. Not recognized as a veteran until 2008.[50]
 United Kingdom Netherwood Hughes 12 June 1900 4 April 2009 (108) Called up to the 51st Manchester Regiment in mid 1918 as truck driver. Did not see action as he was still in training. Lived in Accrington, Lancashire.[51][52]
 United Kingdom Harry Patch 17 June 1898 25 July 2009 (111) Last Tommy. Served in the British Army under the 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Last veteran to serve in trenches and to be wounded in action. Called up in 1916. Last survivor of Battle of Passchendaele. Fireman in World War II. Europe's oldest man upon death. Lived in Wells, Somerset.[53][54][55][56]
 United Kingdom Bill Stone 23 September 1900 10 January 2009 (108) Joined Royal Navy in 1918. Did not see action as he was still in training, but was also a World War II veteran. Lived in Reading, Berkshire at the time of his death.[57][58]
 United States Frank Buckles 1 February 1901 27 February 2011 (110) United States Army 1st Fort Riley Casual Detachment. Last American veteran. Joined in 1917. Ambulance driver near Western Front. Held prisoner in World War II as a civilian. Lived in Charles Town, West Virginia.[59][60][61]

Likely verifiable - 1 veteran who lived to 2009 or later[edit]

Country served Name Born Died Notes
Japan Japan Jiroemon Kimura 19 April 1897 12 June 2013 (116) Probable last verifiable surviving Empire of Japan veteran and possible last verifiable surviving veteran from any combatant nation. Served as a conscripted soldier in an Imperial Japanese Army communications unit from April 1–June 30, 1918, posted to Nakano, Tokyo; saw no action. Oldest verified man in history at the time of his death, and the last verified surviving man to have been born in the 19th century. Service verified from official government records by gerontology researchers confirming his life history. Lived in Kyōtango, Kyoto Prefecture.[62]

Unverified World War I veterans – 4 possible war veterans who lived to 2009 or later[edit]

Listed here are the possible veterans who were not verified as a World War I veteran.

Country served Name Born Died Notes
 Italy Sante Dal Santo 8 September 1902 26 February 2009 (106) Claimed to have joined up in 1916 at the age of 14 as a "Digger" digging trenches and tunnels. Also served in World War II. Lived in Montecchio Precalcino.[63][64]
 Italy Carlo Dozzi 25 January 1901 30 May 2009 (108) Claimed to have joined up in 1917 at the age of 16 as a "Digger" digging trenches and tunnels. Also served in World War II. Lived in Maniago.[65]
 United Kingdom Harry Futcher 21 April 1904 27 May 2010 (106) Claimed to have joined up in 1918 at the age of 14 as a bandsman in the British Army serving in Egypt during the First World War. Lived in Dorset, England.[66][67]
 United Kingdom Douglas Edward "Doug" Terrey 23 June 1903 26 June 2010 (107) Claimed to have joined up in 1917 as bicycle courier delivering messages in the Southampton Military District. Served in Home Guard in World War II. Lived in Southampton, Hampshire.[68][69]

World War I era veterans – 8 veterans who lived to 2009 or later[edit]

Listed here are those that joined the armed services after the Armistice date, but before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, or where there is debate on their join-date, or whose military service is sometimes viewed as outside the scope of "WWI", but are considered World War I-era veterans by the press or by their respective governments, or served in a related conflict.

Country served Name Born Died Notes
 Brazil Waldemar Levy Cardoso 4 December 1900 13 May 2009 (108) Last Brazilian World War I-Era veteran, served in the Brazilian Army, joining in late 1918 but did not see action. Lieutenant Colonel in World War II. Last living Brazilian field marshal. Later lived in Rio de Janeiro.[70][71]
 Finland Aarne Arvonen 4 August 1897 1 January 2009 (111) Last Red Guard veteran from the Finnish Civil War. Oldest Nordic person and Finland's oldest ever man. Last living Finn born in the 19th century. Lived in Järvenpää.[72][73][74]
 Finland Lauri Nurminen 9 September 1906 20 February 2009 (102) Last White Guard and possibly last Finnish Civil War veteran. Served in Ernst Linders Satakunta army group. Lived in Valkeakoski, Finland.[75]
 France Félix Maximilian Rostaing 27 December 1900 31 December 2009 (109) French World War I-Era veteran, served in the Franco-Turkish War. Re-enlisted in 1928 and served in China, Mali and Morocco. Lived in Capbreton, France.[76]
 Germany Helmut Fink 18 March 1901 27 April 2009 (108) Last German Revolution veteran and last German World War I-era veteran, served in the Freikorps during the German Revolution of 1918-1919. Lived in Germany.[citation needed]
 Poland Józef Kowalski 2 February 1900 7 December 2013 (113) Last World War I-era veteran, fought in the Polish Soviet War between 1919-21.[citation needed]
 Poland Wilhelm Meisel 7 January 1904 3 June 2009 (105) Last Silesian Uprisings veteran, joined up in 1919 at the age of 15 and served for the Polish Army during the Silesian uprising until it ended in 1921. Lived in Poland.[citation needed]
 United States Robley Rex 2 May 1901 28 April 2009 (107) Last American World War I-era veteran, joined 5th Infantry Division in May 1919. Later moved to 28th Infantry. Served in Intelligence Unit. Lived in Louisville, Kentucky.[77][78][79]

Totals – 21 veterans who lived to 2009 or later[edit]

  • Verified veterans – 9
  • Unverified veterans – 4
  • World War I-Era veterans – 8

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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