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

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  347 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Harry Patch, the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of World War I, is now 108 years old and 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, s...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 2nd 2008 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2007)
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Ian Russell
May 25, 2009 Ian Russell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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-s...more
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
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
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
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 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
Eli Castro
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
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
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
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
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
Ellen Stafford
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.
Gavin Millar
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.
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.
Tara Fitzgerald
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...more
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
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
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
Steve Chambers
An interesting life story especially the childhood years.
James Kidd
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.
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.
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.
Marc Maitland
A well written account of a man not born to be remarkable, but remarkable now because he is amongst the last of his generation: the odds were against him surviving the First World War, let alone the 90-odd years that have since passed! Even were it not for that remarkable longevity, Harry Patch's story is a fascinating read, recommended to anyone interested in the 20th Century.
Rachel Smith
Apr 14, 2010 Rachel Smith is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A snapshot of a simple life where the local Bobby would clip you round the ear for misbehaving, where kids played outside with no worries of abduction, where you could scrape your knee or play in the mud without your parents having a freak fit and reaching for the Dettox, and of a young boy who grew up to fight in the mud-soaked trenches of World War 1. Incredible.
A very good biography of an ordinary person caught up in an extrordinary hell of others making. Fascinating insights into a life that spanned a turbulant century and saw the repetitive cycle of human stupity again and again. Someone who never wanted to join the great slaughter and who, with his comrades, once there did his best to avoid killing anyone.
An extraordinary book for those interested in history, particularly World War I. Also a great insight into what the average life was like in the early days of the 20th century. The author, who went through hell in the trenches, never spoke of his experience until he was nearly 100 and then became a reluctant hero and spokesman. Unusual and appealing.
Nick Lebbon
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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The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, Last Veteran of the Trenches, 1898-2009

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