Claude Stanley Choules, the last known combat veteran of the First World War, died Thursday in Perth, Western Australia, his family said. The British-born Mr. Choules, who spent more than 40 years in the Royal Navy in England and Australia, was 110. His family was told of his death early Thursday morning, said Malcolm Edinger, his grandson.
Mr. Choules lied about his age to join the navy at 14 in 1915. He followed two older brothers who served in the Gallipoli campaign, where a force of Allied soldiers—many from Australia—attempted to seize control of the Dardanelles strait from Turkish troops of the Ottoman Empire. “There was definitely no glory in it from his point of view,” Mr. Edinger said. “He firmly believed that war was a pure waste of time, resources and human life.”
Mr. Choules became the war’s last known surviving combatant after the death of American Frank Buckles in February, according to the Order of the First World War, a U.S.-based group that tracks veterans.
The 1914-18 war, played out mostly in the trenches of northern France and Belgium, left millions dead—a “lost generation.” Such was the horror of the conflict it became known, in a phrase summing up the vanity of hope, as “the war to end all wars.”
Mr. Choules witnessed the surrender of the German Imperial Navy, and later the scuttling of the German fleet of battleships at Scapa Flow off the coast of Scotland at the end of the war. He moved to Australia in 1926 to continue a naval career that lasted until 1956. Despite his long navy service, Mr. Choules played down his military achievements. He often mentioned fun times doing “swallow dives” off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, Mr. Edinger said, but he never discussed the darker side of war.
A Military hero and long-time Navy veteran who played down his achievements! How rare is that in a man today?
God Bless Him and May He Rest In Peace! Our Prayers are With You!