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The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Trenches

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  532 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews

Harry Patch, the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of the First World War, is one of very few people who can directly recall the horror of that conflict.

Harry vividly remembers his childhood in the Somerset countryside of Edwardian England. He left school in 1913 to become an apprentice plumber but three years later was conscripted, serving as a mac

Hardcover, 238 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 940)
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Ian Russell
May 25, 2009 Ian Russell rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 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
Valerie Penny
Jun 29, 2016 Valerie Penny rated it it was amazing
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-
Sep 18, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
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
Aug 07, 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
Helen F
Jun 12, 2014 Helen F rated it it was ok
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
Jul 26, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it
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.

Apr 16, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it
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
Eli Castro
May 04, 2010 Eli Castro rated it it was amazing
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
Barbara Spencer
Oct 11, 2014 Barbara Spencer rated it really liked it
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?
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
Jan 15, 2012 Jeane rated it really liked it
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
Apr 09, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2011 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
Mar 29, 2016 Laurie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it on cd, which I find is a better way for me to get through historical books. I found Harry's account of his life experiences fascinating. It was interesting to listen to the events of the war through his experiences. Highly recommend this book.
Ellen Stafford
Jun 29, 2014 Ellen Stafford rated it it was amazing
An amazing account from a very brave gentleman. This book was a great read and insight into how life was for our brave soldiers who fought for our country. As someone born and raised in Bath and with relations in Combe Down it was also very interesting.

RIP Harry Patch.
Emma Christina
Jun 10, 2015 Emma Christina rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful account not just of Patch's time in the trenches but his life. I think more war accounts should be written in the context of the life before and the life after so we look at the people rather than just at the fighting.
Gavin Millar
Jul 31, 2014 Gavin Millar rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written piece that really captures an extraordinary man's life. Patch's dictation of his life is a brilliant structured one. Heart warming and emotionally painful at the same time. Do read this.
Gareth Powell
Jan 04, 2015 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
Apr 26, 2014 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good read and puts the First World War into a more human context - what the ordinary soldier lived through and how it affected the rest of his life.
Feb 07, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok
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
Nov 13, 2014 Lorraine rated it really liked it
The life story of Harry Patch, who lived to be 111 and happened to be the last British soldier who had fought in World War I. But that experience is just a small part of this book. Definitely the story of "an ordinary man's extraordinary life".
Sep 11, 2015 Sobriquet rated it it was amazing
As much as I like military history, I enjoyed the part of the book about his childhood more. Wonderful story all around.
Matt Pitts
Mar 06, 2015 Matt Pitts rated it it was amazing
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
Tara Fitzgerald
Apr 20, 2014 Tara Fitzgerald rated it really liked it
Not only a fascinating account of someone who survived two World Wars but also an interesting account of Somerset life in the 20th century. Truly an ordinary man who was forced to do extraordinary things.
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
Nov 03, 2009 Douglas rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 26, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Bev Walkling
Jul 29, 2011 Bev Walkling rated it it was amazing
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
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