Special WWI memorial to be held in the autumn

Kevin Rawlinson
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:06

A special service to commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War generation is to be held in the autumn after the death of the last British survivor of the trenches, Harry Patch.

Mr Patch, who served as part of a Lewis gun team at the battle of Passchendaele, died in his Somerset care home aged 111 on Saturday. He was wounded by shrapnel in 1917 when a shell burst above his head.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said he was "privileged" to have met Mr Patch. "I think it's right that we as a nation have a national memorial service to remember the sacrifice and all the work that was done by those people who served our country during World War One," he said.

The Royal British Legion, which had been in talks with the Ministry of Defence about the possibility of holding a memorial, welcomed the announcement. Its national chairman, Peter Cleminson, said: "Harry Patch was the exemplar of a generation that sacrificed itself for the sake of the freedoms we enjoy today."

The Queen paid tribute yesterday, saying: "We will never forget the bravery and enormous sacrifice of his generation, which will continue to serve as an example to us all."

The service is likely to be held at Westminster Abbey. Gordon Brown and the Queen are expected to attend.

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