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The Last Fighting Tommy

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  604 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Harry Patch, born June 17, 1898, was the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of the First World War. From his vivid memories of an Edwardian childhood, the horror of the Great War and fighting in the mud during the Battle of Passchendaele, working on the home front in the Second World War, and fame in later life as a veteran, "The Last Fighting Tommy ...more
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Published June 1st 2010 by Walker Books Ltd (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ian Russell
May 25, 2009 Ian Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: warmongers, young men, david starkey
The strength of this book lies in the ordinariness of its subject. History is full of hype, stories sold as block-busters, embellished beyond plausibility, myth usurping truth.

Here is a sensitive man so humble he didn't want to tell his story to begin with. Only by pure accident, he becomes the single living connection to an unimaginable experience in another time, to coin L.P. Hartley, a place where they do things differently. So he's persuaded to tell his story; understated, honest, un-heroica
...more
Jo
Jun 15, 2009 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sadly Harry Patch died in July 2009 which prompted me to finally read this book that I purchased earlier in the year. Reading his memories of his life and anecdotes from those that knew him shows a truly wonderful man who cared about everyone around him. It's amazing what he could remember and that at the age of 108 (when he wrote the book) he had such a clarity of mind. I have to confess that at times I had tears in my eyes knowing that Harry had just passed on. If you want to read about a real ...more
Gerry
This book held a very interesting topic on the life of one Englishman who served his country well. Mr. Patch never wanted to be a soldier; but, when he was called upon he didn’t schlep his responsibility to the need of the time. Born at the end of the Victorian era; he was raised in an Edwardian time; a time that has long left us here in the 21st century and the England to which he was born, raised, and lived has long since become a different nation all together. Mr. Van Emden is an effective re ...more
Valerie Penny
Jun 03, 2016 Valerie Penny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually avoid books with more than one author. However, I was interested to read about Henry (Harry) Patch, an ordinary man who got coaught up in both World War I and lived through World War II. I found a book written about him just after his death. However, I then noticed The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Trenches. Harry Patch was the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of the First World War. He was one of very few peo ...more
Hilmi Isa
Ini merupakan sebuah ulasan buku dwi-bahasa/This is a bilingual book review .
Buku ini bukanlah sebuah buku autobiografi/memoir perang yang lazimnya. Jika anda mahukan sebuah buku yang yang menceritakan keperwiraan anggota tentera menumpaskan musuhnya,dengan aksi-aksi pertempuran yang dinyatakan dengan jelas,buku ini bukanlah buku yang sesuai untuk anda.
Buku ini mengisahkan Henry John "Harry" Patch,seorang veteran Perang Dunia Pertama,yang sehingga kematiannya pada 25 Julai 2009,merupakan satu-
...more
John Ollerton
Sep 26, 2016 John Ollerton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, a time capsule
Dan
Jun 09, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Last Fighting Tommy tells the story of Harry Patch, the longest surviving veteran of the trenches. 2014 marks 100 years since the start of World War I so I thought now would be a good time to read this book that has been sat on my shelf for years and years. Harry Patch died in 2009, aged 111, and given that the book was published in 2007 it does cover the vast majority of his long life.

As one would expect a fair chunk of the book covers Harry's experiences in World War I as he was forced to
...more
Tom
Sep 18, 2013 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure I've never read a book written by someone quite so old. Harry Patch was around 105 at the time of writing this autobiographical piece and it makes a good story. He's an ordinary man who grew up around Combe Down near Bath, but ended up in the Trenches at Ypres and then manning the firetrucks during the second world war.

I really enjoyed learning about my local area in the early 1900s and finding out what shenanigans young people got up to in those days. Harry's insight into his f
...more
Ruby Boyer
Oct 29, 2016 Ruby Boyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
What an emotional,eye-opening book. I loved every page. It really makes it stand out that just because the war was declared over, it wasn't for the soldiers who went onto the battlefield.
George Foord
Jan 01, 2017 George Foord rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was a great book of such a interesting life, not a book to go in-depth about ww1 but a book about an amazing life
Angela
Apr 06, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fairly short book tells of the life of Harry Patch, described on the cover as “the only surviving veteran of the trenches”, but this is certainly not a book solely about war.
Harry Patch was born in June 1898, towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, and during his lifetime, the world changed incredibly quickly. For me, the social history of the late 19th century, stretching through to the end of the 20th century and beyond, is one of the most interesting aspects of this book. Changes in
...more
Derek
Jul 26, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Fighting Tommy is an interesting book about a remarkable man, Harry Patch.
Harry was the last remaining British soldier to survive the Western front. He passed away in July 2009, aged 111 years old. Over 90 years ago, he was sent to fight in the mud and blood of Passchendale.
That Harry managed to live so long seems particularly incredible when you read that he had an 2 inch lump of white hot shrapnel blasted into his guts. Meamwhile, all around him his comrades were being blown up.

This
...more
Eli Castro
May 04, 2010 Eli Castro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The man that lives to pass the age of 100 and who knows of his current status this man is no original old mann hes a special man who lived through some of the most historic times. Shure he wasnt a Star but who is? I liked this story cause it seemed realistic maybe a little bit of lies but you never know but it seemed like an honest story.

This book was one of those books that are a little slow in the beginings Harry Patch explains his childhood and family members and things about them, but it
...more
Jeane
Aug 24, 2009 Jeane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Harry Patch lived during both World Wars and was actively involved at the Western Front during the first war.
He was the last surviving Tommy and fortunately for us his story has been written down.
The humor and seriousness with which he tells his story in the village of Bath, where he grew up, how the villege prepared for war and how he went to war. His life with his first wife and after that are hard to read, while some of his anecdotes make you laugh too.
When I was reading his story, I wanted t
...more
John
Harry Patch is 109 years [110 in June]. He is the oldest surviving man who saw combat in World War 1.

Harry didn't want to fight[he'd trained a a plumber] but still did his duty in the horror of the trenches - fighting at the famous Battle of Passchendaele.

This book takes you on an historical journey through the life of an ordinary man who, as time has moved on taking his contemporaries one-by-one, has become extraordinary. By default he has outlived his comrades and his enemies and many of his l
...more
Janet
Apr 09, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harry Patch was something of a local celebrity. And hardly surprising really. He was born and brought up in Combe Down in Bath, so the book is littered with local references, which made it all the more enjoyable for me.

Rather than just tell of Harry’s experiences in WW1, the book is his history from the day he was born (in 1898) until 2007. He lived through two wars and lived through three centuries. It’s humbling to think of that.

Harry was present at the service of Remembrance at the Royal Albe
...more
Maggie
Aug 29, 2009 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's fascinating about this dictated autobiography of the last living British veteran of the trenches of World War I is how little time he actually spent in the war. As of the writing, Harry Patch was 108 years old. His time spent fighting, before being wounded and shipped back to England, totaled little more than four months. Rather, his longevity and his ease in front of the camera brought fame in his later years. The war was something that happened to him and to everyone else. War is someth ...more
Gareth Powell
Jan 05, 2013 Gareth Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
A great read with some lovely humour too. Very moving and inspiring because he was, like most Western Front veterans, just an ordinary man who served his country in an extraordinary way.

Two aspects of his life geographically struck me. Firstly, his home village was just a few miles from my maternal grandfather's ancestral home a generation or so earlier. Secondly, my paternal Grandfather also served on the Western Front in the 38th Welsh Division. Harry's 20th Division & the 38th relieved e
...more
Nick
Sep 11, 2012 Nick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Maybe I expected more than this could deliver. The fact that it is only approx. 25% on WWI is both a plus and a minus. I was expecting more information, first person accounts of the trenches. Yet it is also true that a lot of the other info from the early 20th century is pretty interesting. It is the quotidian nature of much of what is here that is its charm. But it also limits its appeal as much of it could be viewed as a bit mundane.

So I'm in two minds. There is nothing wrong with the book, an
...more
Helen F
Jun 08, 2014 Helen F rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was left feeling a litle disappointed by this book as I have really taken to reading accounts of the war and learning more, but I felt that this fell a little flat. It was interesting in so far as learning about an Edwardian upbringing and the context/ effects on family life at the time but I felt like it never got to the nitty gritty of war. In terms of WW2 very little was actually mentioned. By the end of the book more was actually written by Van Emden that Harry himself, giving context to h ...more
Douglas
Nov 03, 2009 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book for those with a knowledge of the Bath area and an interest in the Great War. Harry Petch came from Combe Down in Bath and as a teenager was wounded at Passchendaele. His family was relatively prosperous and he had a good life as a plumber. He was in the AFS in the Second World War experiencing the Bath Blitz when 400 people died in a Baedeker Raid. It wasnt till he got to a hundred that he started talking about his experiences in the Great War and he became a national figure po ...more
Kate
Jan 21, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading this book and was disappointed when it came to an end. Harry writes with such humility. His stories are factual and not embellished or given the "hollywood" bling. He tells the story of his life as he experienced it from boyhood, through the first world war in active service, his contribution during the second world war and how his life and loves developed until the end of his days. He must have been a truly inspiring man to have met. His spirit shines through the pages. I would ...more
Matt Pitts
Aug 05, 2014 Matt Pitts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Harry Patch is fascinating, poignant and humbling. Told biographically through a series of interviews with Richard Van Emden, the writing is frank and descriptive without ever straying into hyperbole. We get a glimpse into childhood life in the west country of England, both World Wars, and a lifetime of experiences spanning a century.

The horrors of war certainly marked Harry's life, but never dominated it. Love, acceptance and forgiveness all play a part in his story. The matter-of
...more
Bev Walkling
Jul 29, 2011 Bev Walkling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, biography, true-life
This book tells the Story of Harry Patch, last surviving British soldier who fought in the trenches during the Great War. It is more than a war story as it begins with his childhood growing up near Bath, England. The book was published when he was 108 years old and is remarkable in the detail for one of such an age. His co-author, blends the historical details of the times smoothly in to Harry's retelling of his memories. He died at the age of 109 having chosen to forego any pomp and circumstanc ...more
Tim Corke
What a truly inspirational read. Having met the late Harry Patch at the naming ceremony of the lifeboat named in his and Doris's name, it was fascinating to read more about him.

His famed age, iconic presence as "the last fighting Tommy" and his philanthropic gestures are just a snippet of Harry's life and van Emden's touching narratives add more depth.

TLFT should be read as a guide to social history covering the innocence of a bygone age, one we strive for today but as a reminder of the person
...more
James Kidd
Oct 19, 2013 James Kidd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I write this with a tear in my eye. I have just finished this wonderful book. A simple story elegantly and movingly told of a man, who is defined by his experiences of being a WWI trench veteran, but who was much more than that. The tears were due to the simple but wonderful telling of a man's life. He has gone now, to join his comrades from the Vickers gun team perhaps, whose to say; but as we tell ourselves, we should never forget. We must never forget what our forefathers did for us.
Louise
Jul 23, 2009 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel somewhat satisfied I was able to read this book before the man himself past away, today July 25th 2009 at 111 years old. This was a book I had always intended to read, I borrowed it from my local library and after finishing it I was left with the main impression that Harry Patch wasn't an extra-ordinary man, he was very simply an ordinary man consumed by fate and rose to every challenge that lay infront of him which in itself is outstanding and extra-ordinary.
Barbara Spencer
Oct 11, 2014 Barbara Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very powerful book because it was written by someone who lived only a mile or so away about a war that we can only imagine. I thought his frankness about his belief in God and later when he saw the graves of so many Americans killed at Omaha Beach in the Second World War particularly moving. This is a book that should be read. To be frank it made me feel very humble; do we really appreciate the stupidity of war and the sacrifice of these men?
Jane
Oct 19, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this at the time of publication and I'm glad I did. It made me understand why Harry didn't want to be paraded in front of the world as a hero. Just an average guy asked to do things no one wanted to do and was unlucky enough to live the longest. Harry is very frank and if you want to know what the trenches were really like then this is a book you should definitely read. Recommended to anyone interested in the truth.
Nick Lebbon
Nov 16, 2013 Nick Lebbon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this just before Harry Patch passed away, and I'm glad I did. I felt I owed him to read his story. One of the most memorable parts of the book in my opinion is Harry describing his childhood years in the West Country of England. A great document of both social and military importance. RIP Harry. We will remember them . . . .
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