Last WWI veteran laid to rest in military funeral

Last Updated: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 14:30

Fremantle: The last World War One combat veteran, British-born Claude Choules, who died aged 110, was laid to rest on Friday after a military funeral in the Australian port town of Fremantle.

Choules, who died this month in a Perth nursing home, shunned military parades in his later years, but on Friday more than 100 navy sailors formed a guard of honour for his casket.

During the church service, Choules` casket, draped with the Australian White Ensign naval flag, flowers and a Navy sailor`s hat, was flanked by two portraits, one as a young sailor and another wearing a classic Australian "bush hat”.

When the funeral service ended, the late Choules was saluted by a 12 rifle volley, fired three times.

Choules did not speak highly of war in his later life and was renowned for avoiding Anzac Day parades, Australia`s major war memorial day, only marching if ordered.

In his eulogy, Choules` son Adrian paid tribute to his father and recalled his "sailor`s mouth" for swearing.

"Now is the time not to be sad, but to celebrate. It was a very long life and a very wonderful life," he said.

Choules, nicknamed "Chuckles" by his comrades, was the last of more than 70 million military personnel who served during World War One, known as the Great War and the war that was suppose to end all wars.

Choules was born in 1901 and signed up with the British Navy for the Great War at just 15 years of age, serving first onboard the HMS Impregnable.

He joined the battleship HMS Revenge in 1917 and witnessed the surrender of the German Fleet near Firth of Forth in Scotland in 1918.

After the war, he moved to Perth and joined the Australian Navy, working as a demolition officer at the Fremantle Harbor during World War Two, making him the last veteran who served in both World Wars.

The only other surviving World War I veteran is believed to be Britain`s Florence Green, also 110, who served with the Royal Air Force in a non-combat role.

In 2009, Choules published a book about his life, The "Last of the Last”.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 14:30

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