Honouring the Memory of Harry Patch: ‘The Last Fighting Tommy’

Harry Patch's Wreath at Tyne Cot Memorial in 2017

Honouring the Memory of Harry Patch: ‘The Last Fighting Tommy’, by Mary Godwin, Museum Director.

This year saw the commemoration of the centenary of the battle of Passchendaele on 31st July. During this notorious battle, an estimated 245,000 allied and 215,000 German casualties (dead, wounded or missing) fell after approximately 100 days of heavy fighting for a movement of the front line of only 8 kilometres.

One of the DCLI soldiers that fought there and survived was 19 year old Henry John (Harry) Patch who went on to become known as the ‘Last Fighting Tommy’, outliving all other British WW1 soldiers. He died in 2009 at the great age of 111. The museum is very lucky and proud to have Harry’s medals and other memorabilia in its collection.

Harry Patch - Portrait at Cornwall's Regimental Museum
Harry Patch’s Portrait at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

Harry’s friend Nick Fear, who brought him to the museum at Bodmin on more than one occasion, attended the commemoration event in this centenary year and laid a wreath in memory of Harry under the DCLI panel on the memorial at Tyne Cot cemetery.

Harry Patch's Wreath at Tyne Cot Memorial in 2017

Harry Patch's Wreath at Tyne Cot Memorial in 2017
The wreath for Harry laid this year by Nick Fear under the DCLI panel on the memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery (Photos by Nick Fear).

As part of the museum’s First World War commemorations, we want to improve the standard of display of Harry’s medals and other objects from DCLI soldiers of the Great War, in good time for the 2018 armistice centenary. In particular, we want to re-line display cases with conservation standard materials, purchase high-quality museum mounts for Harry’s medals and other Great War memorabilia, and design and print new graphic panels telling the story of Harry and the DCLI in World War 1. This project will cost £2,000 and we would like to ask our supporters to help us to raise the funds needed and reach our target.

The current Harry Patch Display at Cornwall's Regimental Museum

The current Harry Patch Display at Cornwall's Regimental Museum
The current Harry Patch Display at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

To contribute to the appeal, perhaps in memory of someone who served in the DCLI or LI, supporters can use the new ‘Donate’ facility on our website, just click the Virgin Money Giving button below, or visit our How to Support Us page.  If you prefer you can send a cheque payable to Cornwall’s Regimental Museum to The Keep, Bodmin PL31 1EG, or you can pop in or telephone us to make a donation by card. All contributions, whether large or small, will be very gratefully received and acknowledged in our new display.

Thank you very much for your support!

Make a donation to Cornwall's Regimental Museum via Virgin Money Giving
Make a donation to Cornwall’s Regimental Museum via Virgin Money Giving

 

Watch a YouTube video of Harry talking about his experience of war, here.

Click here to learn more about the Battle of Passchendaele and the centenary commemorations.

Click here to find out the other ways you can support Cornwall’s Regimental Museum.

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