Last World War I veteran dies aged 110

The last know combat veteran of the First World War has died at the age of 110, his family said today.

British-born Claude Stanley Choules, who was known as "Chuckles" by his comrades, joined the Royal Navy aged just 14 and witnessed the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919.



He emigrated to Australia in the 1920s and served in the military for 41 years before retiring and publishing his first book at the age of 108.



Mr Choules's family said he passed away today at a nursing home in the western Australian city of Perth.



Following his death, his daughter Daphne Edinger, 84, said: "We all loved him.



"It's going to be sad to think of him not being here any longer, but that's the way things go."



The father-of-three was born in Pershore, Worcestershire, on March 3 1901, six weeks after the death of Queen Victoria, and was one of seven children.



He signed up for naval training in 1915, just one month after his 14th birthday, and at 16 joined the battleship HMS Revenge - part of the British Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.



While serving on Revenge he witnessed the surrender of the German fleet at the Firth of Forth, on Scotland's east coast, on November 21, 1918.



Mr Choules, who claimed the secret to a long life was simply to "keep breathing", was also present at Scapa Flow on June 21, 1919 when the Germans scuttled all their warships so they would not fall into British hands.



He remained with the Royal Navy after the war and in 1926 was posted as an instructor to Flinders Naval Depot, near Melbourne, Australia.



While on board the passenger liner that took him to Australia, he met his future wife Ethel.



They were married on December 3, 1926 and later settled in Western Australia.



Mr Choules decided to transfer permanently to the Royal Australian Navy and during the Second World War he was appointed chief demolition officer for the western half of Australia.



He later transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police and remained in the Australian navy until his retirement at the age of 55, before going on to publish his autobiography, The Last of the Last, in 2009.



His wife died in 2003 at the age of 98 after they had been married for 76 years, and he spent his final years in a nursing home.



"His family was the most important thing in his life," his other daughter, Anne Pow, said in a 2010 interview.



Mr Choules and another Briton, Florence Green, became the war's last known surviving service members after the death of American Frank Buckles in February, according to the Order of the First World War, a US-based group that tracks veterans.



Mr Choules was the last known surviving combatant of the war.



Ms Green, who turned 110 in February, served as a waitress in the Women's Royal Air Force.



Mr Choules leaves behind three children, Daphne, Anne and Adrian, all aged in their 70s and 80s.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Events Business) - Manchester - Urgent!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A teacher of Science is required by this 11...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this Co-educatio...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea