When canvassing the local businesses for information about characters from the time of the First World War for our Ribbon of Remembrance, a major surprise came from Wendy, shop manager at the Castle Hill Bookshop. “You know what my name is?!” was her reply to the enquiry. Wendy Patch is the granddaughter of Harry Patch, the ‘Last Fighting Tommy’.
Henry John Patch died on 25th July 2009, aged 111 years, having attained a level of celebrity that he can never have imagined at the time when he was No 2 on a Lewis gun team in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Harry was an apprentice plumber before he was conscripted into the army at the age of 18. He saw action at the Third Battle of Ypres, though his war came to an end on 22nd September 1917 following a German shell burst which killed three of his fellow Lewis gunners. Harry’s wound saw him hospitalised for 12 months. The Armistice came about while he was convalescing on the Isle of Wight.
Following the war, Harry married Ada Billington, had two sons Denis and Roy and returned to work as a plumber.
Harry only spoke about the war in the latter part of his life and when he did it was without any animosity towards the Germans who faced him across No-man’s Land. As one of the few Great War veterans who survived into the 21st century, Harry was invited to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. He was awarded an honorary degree by Bristol University in 2004, the Legion d’Honneur by the French government and made a Knight of the Order of Leopold by King Albert II of Belgium.
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Researched by Katy Douthwaite Cecil Christian Jervelund was born in 1891, the son of a Danish Merchant, Albert Neilson Jervelund, becoming a naturalised British citizen in 1889. Before joining the army, he worked as a Clerk at the local Iron and Steel Works. Charles, his elder brother was a regular Officer in the Yorkshire Regiment and served in India, South Africa and Bermuda. Cecil had been an Officer with the 4th Yorks since 1913 and went to France with them on 18th April 1915. On May 24th, at Hooge, the Germans launched a devastating gas attack, in which 30 Green Howards were killed in action, 70 were wounded and 98 were missing. The heavy toll included Cecil, who was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of gas. After recovering and returning to his unit, Cecil was promoted to Captain on 16th February 1916. He survived the War and appears again in October 1920 when he was once more made a Captain in the 4th Yorks Battalion after they reformed as part of the new Territorial Army. He married Marguerite D Mangin in Ripon, Yorks in 1918 and died in 1942 at Middlesbrough.
Maud Florence Hoare Maud was living in Ashford in Middlesex when she enrolled as a VAD for the British Red Cross. She joined in January 1915 and was stationed at the Military Hospital Catterick Camp. Maud spent approximately a year at Catterick Camp. Stationed from 15th January 1918 until the 9th of February 1919. This information, provided by Alathea Anderssohn has been drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ archive.
Born in York, 16th of January 1886, the son of Major H L M Levin, 19th Foot (the Green Howards). Commissioned as Second Lieutenant on 28th of January 1905 and promoted to Lieutenant on the 3rd of October 1906. He became a Captain prior to the First World War on 23 April 1913. In the First World War 1914-18 he went to Belgium with the 2nd Batallion. Was severely wounded at Gheluvelt, 29th of October 1914 by a shrapnel shell. His life was saved by the silver lucifer box (match case) he carried in his brest pocket. For the remainder of the War was employed on the staff at home. He retired in March 1921, but was recalled in September 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. He was awarded the rank of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel and an OBE for his service. The photograph of his fellow 2nd Battalion officers is remarkable in that of the 26 Officers pictured in October 1914, 10 were dead by the end of the year, 3 more were killed subsequently, 10 were wounded and / or taken prisoner, and only 3 appear to have survived the War unscathed.