9.3.09

Légion d'Honneur

1917 was a long time ago... The carnage of the War to end all wars is long over, as is the war after the war to end all wars... Harry Patch has been alive from 1899, and could act as witness a world that has failed to follow Christ through at least five wars from the Boer War through the War on Terror in a century drunk on it's own blood. This is an honour well deserved.

LONDON – AP...The last British survivor of World War I's grinding trench warfare was made an officer of the French Legion of Honor on Monday.

French Ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne awarded 110-year-old Harry Patch the medal at a ceremony in Patch's nursing home in Wells, 120 miles (190 kilometers) west of London, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement. Patch, who served as a machine-gunner in the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele, told Gourdault-Montagne he was proud of the honor.

"Ambassador, I greatly appreciate the way your people respect the memory of those who fell, irrespective of the uniform they wore," he said in a raspy, deliberate voice. "I will wear this medal with great pride and when I eventually rejoin my mates it will be displayed in my regimental museum as a permanent reminder of the kindness of the people of France."

Patch is one of only two surviving British veterans of World War I, according to the Ministry of Defense. The second, 112-year-old Henry Allingham, served as an airman.

Patch had already been made a Knight of the French Legion in 1998, along with more than 300 other veterans of the conflict, in which more than 8 million soldiers perished.

An officer of the French Legion of Honor is a higher rank.

Patch was called up for service in the British army in 1916 when he was working as an apprentice plumber. Thrown into the Allied offensive to take the village of Passchendaele, near the Belgian town of Ypres, he was badly wounded and three of his best friends were killed by shrapnel.

Patch was due to return to France when the war ended in 1918. He went home, returned to work as a plumber, and raised a family. He didn't start talking about his war experiences until the 21st century.


Dieu le Roy.
Brantigny

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