Last WWI Combat Vet Dead

Navy vet Claude Choules dies in Australia
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2011 4:23 AM CDT
In this Sept. 11, 2009 photo supplied by the Royal Australian Navy, World War I Navy Veteran Claude Choules sits in the Gracewood Retirement Village lounge room in Salter Point, Australia.   (AP Photo/Royal Australian Navy, LSIS Nadia Monteith)

(Newser) – The last known survivor of the tens of millions of people who fought in World War I has died in Australia at the age of 110, reports AP. Claude Choules began training with Britain's Royal Navy when he was just 14 and served on the battleship HMS Revenge, where he witnessed the surrender of Germany's main fleet in 1918. He moved to Australia after the war and served in the navy there during World War II, acting as chief demolition officer for the western side of the continent, which was considered vulnerable to Japanese attack.

Choules met his wife Ethel on the first day of his sea journey to Australia and they stayed together for 76 years until her death in 2003, raising three children and settling down to a quiet life crayfishing south of Perth after he left the military in 1956. "I had a pretty poor start," he told an interviewer in 2009. "But I had a good finish." The only known WWI service member still alive is Florence Green, also 110, who served as a waitress in Britain's Women's Royal Air Force.

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