Angela's Reviews > The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Trenches

The Last Fighting Tommy by Harry Patch
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Apr 16, 11

Read from April 06 to 16, 2011

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 customs and manners, as well as in technology, created a world that was very different towards the end of Harry’s life than that at the beginning.
As Harry Patch was so old, his words had been recorded and then transcribed by Richard Van Emden. Much of the story is told in Harry’s words, with insertions by Van Emden which give historical background, especially during the years of World War 1. This was a technique that I think worked very well. The book flowed well and the insertions helped to create an accurate context for Harry’s memories.
I was struck by the honesty of the book. Harry Patch makes no secret of the fact that he didn’t want to go to war in 1914; in fact, he was not one of those young men who lied about their age because they were desperate to see action in Europe. He wanted to continue with his apprenticeship as a plumber and it wasn’t until he was “called up” that he joined the army and was eventually sent to the trenches which stretched across much of the Western Front. He became part of a small team of five men who manned a Lewis gun. Although he didn’t like army life, he did appreciate the men who made up this team and he describes their support for each other in a moving way.
I imagine that people who are interested in 20th century warfare will appreciate the book, but for me, the big message that I found is that life - just ordinary, every day living - is not easy or particularly fair for many people. However, Harry survived not only two World Wars, but over a century of every day living - by hard work, loyal relationships and a flexibility of outlook.
I’m glad that I read “The Last Fighting Tommy.”
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Reading Progress

04/10/2011 page 5
2.0%
04/11/2011 page 49
19.0% "Really enjoying this!"
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Stephen reading the last veteran : harry patch and the legacy of war already read the book you been reading


Angela Stephen wrote: "reading the last veteran : harry patch and the legacy of war already read the book you been reading"

I think I'll see about getting hold of a copy of the book you're reading. It looks quite good. How's it going?


Stephen Angela wrote: "Stephen wrote: "reading the last veteran : harry patch and the legacy of war already read the book you been reading"

I think I'll see about getting hold of a copy of the book you're reading. It lo..."


if you want you can swap for my copy once i finish with it :) through risi


Angela Stephen wrote: "Angela wrote: "Stephen wrote: "reading the last veteran : harry patch and the legacy of war already read the book you been reading"

I think I'll see about getting hold of a copy of the book you'..."


Ok Steve, that's a good idea.


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