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Britain's last WWI veteran shuns Remembrance Day

This handout photo received from the Australian Department of Defence on November 11, 2009 shows Britain's last surviving World War I veteran, 108-year-old Claude Choules, sitting in his retirement home in Perth, Western Australia on November 9, 2009. Choules served on HMS Revenge during a 41-year naval career that spanned both world wars, witnessing the surrender of the German Imperial Navy in 1918 and the scuttling of the fleet in Scapa Flow. The veteran has shunned Remembrance Day commemorations because he was against the glorification of war, his family was reported as saying on November 11, 2009. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Nov 11, 2009
Britain's last surviving World War I veteran shunned Remembrance Day commemorations Wednesday because he was against the glorification of war, his family was reported as saying.

Claude Choules, 108, lives in a nursing home in Perth, Australia and in July became Britain's sole survivor from the 1914-1918 war, following the death of fellow veteran Harry Patch, aged 111.

Choules served on HMS Revenge during a 41-year naval career that spanned both world wars, witnessing the surrender of the German Imperial Navy in 1918 and the scuttling of the fleet in Scapa Flow.

But his daughter Daphne Edinger said Choules had been scarred by his experiences and chose not to celebrate the Armistice or other veterans' days.

"After my father left the navy, he never went to ANZAC Day again," Edinger told Fairfax media, referring to the day Australians and New Zealanders remember their war dead. "He didn't think we should glorify war."

Choules, known to his Navy comrades as "Chuckles", lied about his age so he could join the war effort as a British sailor in 1916, aged 14.

He was seconded to the Australian navy in 1926 and served as an explosives and torpedo expert during World War II.

Choules remained in the force for 30 years, serving out the last of his days in the Naval Dockyard Police. He is one of just three WWI veterans still alive worldwide.

Edinger said Choules was "holding up well" despite his advanced age, having lost his eyesight and almost all of his hearing. He earlier said the secret of longevity was to "just keep breathing".

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