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Harry Patch in Ieper

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Jul 2007 23:25    Onderwerp: Harry Patch in Ieper Reageer met quote

Afgelopen zondag was de langstlevende veteraan Harry Patch
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=3915&highlight=harry+patch
bij de Last Post te Ieper.
Harry ging na de speciale ceremonie met de heren Richard van Emden en Peter Barton mee boeken signeren in "Over the top" frontreizen annex boekwinkel.

Foto's volgen morgenochtend.
Het was een enorme belevenis Harry te ontmoeten..
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Jul 2007 23:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Veteran, 109, revisits WWI trench

The last known surviving British soldier to have fought in the trenches of World War I has revisited the site where he fought 90 years ago.

Harry Patch, of Somerset, made the trip to Flanders in Belgium to recall his part in the battle which claimed 250,000 British casualties.

He also went to pay homage to the thousands of German soldiers who lost their lives.

The 109-year-old fought in the Battle of Passchendaele when he was aged 19.

He served with the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry and was called up for service while working as an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath.

During the fighting, Mr Patch was badly wounded and three of his best friends were killed when a shell exploded just yards from where he was standing.

'Suffered the same'

He made the trip with historian Richard van Emden, who helped Mr Patch write down his memories.

Mr van Emden showed him the five miles they advanced over 99 days which claimed 3,000 British casualties every day.

He was also shown a recently discovered panoramic photograph of the fields taken in 1917.

"Too many died," said Mr Patch. "War isn't worth one life."

He said war was the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings".

Mr Patch laid a wreath at the site of the trench, which now forms part of a German war cemetery.

Around 250,000 Germans died in the battle which has been described as one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the Great War.

"The Germans suffered the same as we did," Mr Patch said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/6921217.stm
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 10:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wil jij zeggen dat jij Harry ontmoet hebt ??? Surprised

En zeggen dat ik gisterennamiddag bijna vertrokken ben naar Ieper om een praatje te gaan slaan met Peter Barton, maar afhaakte door het weer ! Zucht !
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 11:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Had dat maar gedaan, want het was schitterend weer!
Ik ga zo even m'n foto's bekijken en plaatsen.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 11:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

foto's en artikel op
http://www.nieuwsblad.be/GT/Index.aspx?genericId=193
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 12:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hier was het niets schitterend weer, heeft zelfs op een bepaald moment een zeer zware bui gevallen... Rolling Eyes
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 13:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het koor arriveert, langzaam aan begint het publiek door te krijgen dat het een speciale avond wordt:


De heren van het Legion:



Doorpraten van de ceremonie



De heren links hebben door wat er gaat gebeuren, het wachten is op,




Dhr Harry Patch!





Exhortation




Kranslegging




Afsluiting en iedereen wilde Harry de hand drukken.

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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 13:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hij was te Ieper voor de eerste keer op 24 juli 2002 :

,,Die hel mag nooit vergeten worden'' 25/07/2002

Drie Britse veteranen op viering 75 jaar Menenpoort

IEPER - Prins Laurent en de Hertog van Kent woonden gisteren de viering van de 75ste verjaardag van de Menenpoort in Ieper bij. De hoge gasten werden verwelkomd door gouverneur Paul Breyne en burgemeester Luc Dehaene.

Maar tijdens de stijlvolle ceremonie, met een speciale uitvoering van de Last Post die op 24 juli 1927 bij de inwijding voor de eerste keer weerklonk onder het monument voor 55.000 van de vermiste officieren en soldaten van het Gemenebest, ging de aandacht vooral naar drie Britse aanwezigen: Jack Davis (107), Harry Patch (104) en Arthur Halestrap (103) vertrokken tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog van aan de Menenpoort naar het slagveld.

,,Bijzonder pijnlijk'', probeerde Harry Patch uit Wells (Somerset) zijn gevoelens te verwoorden. Voor de 104-jarige oud-strijder was het de eerste keer sinds 1917 dat hij terug in Ieper was. Voor Jack Davis uit Stoke Hammond (Buckinghamshire), met zijn 107 jaar één van de oudste mannen van Groot-Brittannië, was het nog maar de tweede keer dat hij weer op de plek stond vanwaar hij in augustus 1915 naar de hel vertrok. De derde veteraan, Arthur Halestrap (103), is intussen al een bekend gezicht in Ieper. Hij komt twee keer per jaar naar het vasteland: in de zomer naar de Somme en in november naar Ieper. Hoewel hij nooit in de Salient vocht -- hij was in Frankrijk gelegerd -- hij herinnert zich nog levendig de ruïne waarin Ieper werd herschapen toen hij er passeerde. ,,Onbeschrijflijk. Hopelijk wordt het offer van die duizenden jonge mannen nooit vergeten!'', aldus een sterk geëmotioneerde Halestrap.

Dat was ook de boodschap van de korte toespraak van de Hertog van Kent, die als voorzitter van de Commonwealth War Graves Commission, samen met prins Laurent een bloemenkrans neerlegde onder de Menenpoort. Heel pakkend werd het toen vanop het dak van het memoriaal duizenden klaprozen neerdwarrelden, terwijl een doedelzakspeler onder de poort stapte. (MT)

Bron : http://www.nieuwsblad.be/Article/Detail.aspx?articleID=nbra25072002_025
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 13:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Zie ook :

http://www.nieuwsblad.be/GT/Index.aspx?genericId=193
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote








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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote







In de tour/bookshop "Over The Top"
signeren met Peter Barton en Richard van Emden



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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het boek over Harry's leven geschreven door Richard van Emden


Peter Barton signeert mijn boek


Harry signeert m'n boek

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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:45    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/6921217.stm

Voor het artikel van de BBC over zijn bezoek. Je kan er ook een mooie drie en een halve minuut reportage aanklikken over zijn bezoek.

Het is ook heel mooi om te zien hoe hij een poppy krans gaat plaatsen op de Duitse begraafplaats te Langemark en hoe hij vertelt dat de Duitse jongens net hetzelfde meemaakten als hen. En dat er ook over hun getreurd werd in Duitsland.

Geen gevoelens van wraak, geen gevoelens van haat, het universeel gevoel van soldaten die nu de slachting veroordelen waartoe ze ooit deels gedwongen werden om eraan deel te nemen.

Het mooiste bewijs dat niemand kan goedpraten hoeveel bloed sommige bevelhebbers uit die oorlog en ook vele andere oorlogen, aan hun handen kleven hebben.

Een indrukwekkende man, zoals Yvonne me reeds vertelde, die bij iedere persoon met een beetje menselijk gevoel, een diepe indruk moet nalaten.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:57    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

........................................ Heel indrukwekkend, vooral het einde op Langemark........................ Ik zeg dit niet vlug: maar als wo1 "liefhebber" moet je dit gezien hebben..............
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 14:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

En dan dit bericht, mooi!
By Juliette Astrup

A 109-year-old - the last living infantryman from the First World War - has donated a £29,000 boat to the RNLI.

Harry Patch, one of the oldest people in the country, named the D class lifeboat The Doris and Harry, after himself and his late partner.

He christened her with a glug of champagne and a few words at a double naming ceremony, held at the RNLI Lifeboat College, Poole, on Friday.

The veteran, from Somerset, said: "'I'm feeling proud and overwhelmed - I didn't expect to see all these people here.

"Doris was always interested in the RNLI and I gave the boat in memory of her.

"It's my tribute to Doris."

He funded the D class lifeboat with proceeds from a book about his recollections of the Great War, written by friend and biographer Richard Van Emden.

The Doris and Harry was received alongside Tabbycat, a £135,000 Atlantic 85 lifeboat, funded by a legacy from supporter James Samson, of Nottingham.

The craft was formally named by Daily Echo editor Neal Butterworth.

Both lifeboats will now go into the relief fleet, on standby for use at stations around the country if their lifeboats go out of service.

RNLI press officer Susanna Woods said: "They are a vital part of our fleet. Hopefully they will last for many years and save many lives."

Sarah Sleigh, the charity's personal donations manager, said: "We are extremely grateful to both Mr Patch and Mr Samson for their generosity.

"This joint naming ceremony is a fantastic way to recognise their contributions to the charity.

"Without exception, all donations are welcomed by the RNLI."

7:00pm Sunday 22nd July 2007

http://www.thisisdorset.net/display.var.1563685.0.gift_from_harry_109_is_a_lifesaver.php
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 15:21    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/last_tommy_gallery_03.shtml

Ook dit is een zeer mooi stuk over hoe de man over de oorlog dacht en denkt, en hoe hij die meemaakte.


Born 17 June 1898

A rude awakening

I had a brother who was a regular soldier. He was in Africa when the war broke out. He was a sergeant major in the Royal Engineers, who fought and was wounded at Mons. And they kept him in England after that, as an instructor. He never went back and he used to tell me what the trenches were like. I didn’t want to go. I knew what I was going to. A lot of people didn’t and when they got to France they had a rude awakening.

The trenches were about six feet deep, about three feet wide - mud, water, a duckboard if you were lucky. You slept on the firing step, if you could, shells bursting all around you. Filthy.

Infected by lice

From the time I went to France - the second week in June 1917 - until I left 23rd December 1917, injured by shellfire, I never had a bath. I never had any clean clothes. And when we got to Rouen on the way home they took every stitch of clothing off us: vest, shirt, pants, everything and they burnt it all. It was the only way to get rid of the lice. For each lousy louse, he had his own particular bite, and his own itch and he’d drive you mad. We used to turn our vests inside out to get a little relief. And you’d go down all the seams, if you dared show a light, with a candle, and burn them out. And those little devils who’d laid their eggs in the seam, you’d turn your vest inside out and tomorrow you’d be just as lousy as you were today. And that was the trenches.

Fighting for their lives

You daren’t show above otherwise a sniper would have you. You used to look between the fire and apertures and all you could see was a couple of stray dogs out there, fighting over a biscuit that they’d found. They were fighting for their lives. And the thought came to me – well, there they are, two animals out there fighting over dog biscuit, the same as we get to live. They were fighting for their lives. I said, ‘We are two civilised nations - British and German - and what were we doing? We were in a lousy, dirty trench fighting for our lives? For what? For eighteen pence a flipping day.’

Life in the trenches

You got tots of rum.There were many a man who didn’t like rum, didn’t drink it. It used to warm you up. Life in the trenches, well…can you imagine now, going out from this room along the corridor and there is a trench dug across the lawn. Six feet deep and three feet wide. There is water and mud in the bottom. You sit on a trench at the side to sleep, don’t matter whether it is wet, fine, hot or cold. Four days you are there and you got to stick it. That was the conditions.

If any man tells you he went into the front line and he wasn’t scared – he’s a liar. You were scared from the moment you got there. You never knew. I mean, in the trench you were all right. If you kept down, a sniper couldn’t get you. But you never knew if the artillery had a shell that burst above you and you caught the shrapnel. That was it.

Shell shock

You were in that trench. That was your front line. You had to keep an eye on the German front line. You daren’t leave. No. I suppose if you left, and some of them did, they were shot as cowards. That is another thing with shell shock – I never saw anyone with it, never experienced it – but it seemed you stood at the bottom of the ladder and you just could not move. Shellshock took all the nervous power out of you.

An officer would come down and very often shoot them as a coward. That man was no more a coward than you or I. He just could not move. That’s shell shock. Towards the end of war they recognised it as an illness. The early part of the war – they didn’t. If you were there you were shot. And that was it. And there’s a good many men who were shot for cowardice and they are asking now … that verdict be taken away. They were not cowards.

Sleep in the trenches

Rats as big as cats. Anything they could gnaw, they would - to live. If you didn’t watch it, they’d gnaw your shoe laces. Anything leather, they would nibble that. As you went to sleep, you would cover your face with a blanket and you could hear the damn things run over you.

As you to sat on the firing step, you could have a doze. Not much more. Half-past seven in the morning, stand-to and you’d have an inspection. Last thing at night, you’d have an inspection. You had to sleep in between.

No Man’s Land

Probably you’d hear something in No Man’s Land. It might have been a working party. You reported it. The officer would have a look through his field glasses. If it was any good and it wasn’t British, give them a burst. Number One would give them a shot or two out of the Lewis gun, and after firing that Lewis gun from one aperture, we would always move down the trench. This was because, if it was spotted by a German observer there, the range was sent back to their artillery. Staying put was an invitation for half a dozen rockets. If you stayed where you were, you chanced it.

Going ‘over the top’

Never forget it. We crawled, couldn’t stand up - a sniper would have you. I came across a Cornishman, he must have been from ‘A’ or ‘B’ companies who were the assault companies when we went over. ‘C’ and ‘D’, we were support. I came across a Cornishman, he was ripped from his shoulder to his waist – shrapnel.

Now a bullet wound is clean, shrapnel will tear you all to pieces. He was laying there in a pool of blood. As we got to him, he said, ‘Shoot me.’ He was beyond all human aid. Before we would pull out the revolver to shoot him, he died. I was with him in the last seconds of his life. hen he went from this life, to whatever is beyond.

Now what I saw in the way of sights at Passchendaele and at Pilkem - the wounded lying about asking you for help - we didn’t have the knowledge, the equipment or the time to spend with them. I lost all my faith in the Church of England.

And when that fellah died, he just said one word: ‘Mother.’ It wasn’t a cry of despair. It was a cry or surprise and joy. I think - although I wasn’t allowed to see her - I am sure his mother was in the next world to welcome him. And he knew it. I was just allowed to see that much and no more. And from that day until today - and now I’m nearly 106 years old - I shall always remember that cry and I shall always remember that death is not the end.

You’ve got a memory. You’ve got a brain about the size of a tea cup. I’ve got a memory that goes back for 80 or 90 years and I think that memory goes on with you when you die. And that’s my opinion. Death is not the end.

Shooting to kill

I never knew Bob [Harry’s friend and gunner] to use that [Lewis] gun to kill. If he used that gun at all, it was about two feet off the ground and he would wound them in the legs. He wouldn’t kill them if he could help it.

[A German soldier] came to me with a rifle and a fixed bayonet. He had no ammunition, otherwise he could have shot us. He came towards us. I had to bring him down. First of all, I shot him in the right shoulder. He dropped the rifle and the bayonet. He came on. His idea, I suppose, was to kick the gun if he could into the mud, so making it useless. But anyway, he came on and for our own safety, I had to bring him down. I couldn’t kill him. He was a man I didn’t know. I didn’t know his language. I couldn’t talk to him. I shot him above the ankle, above the knee. He said something to me in German. God knows what it was. But for him the war was over.

He would be picked up by a stretcher bearer. He would have his wounds treated. He would be put into a prisoner-of-war camp. At the end of the war, he would go back to his family. Now, six weeks after that, a fellow countryman of his pulled the lever of the gun that fired the rocket that killed my three mates, and wounded me. If I had met that German soldier after my three mates had been killed, I’d have no trouble at all in killing him.

Losing friends

The night we caught it, we were in the front line and we were going back. We had taken the German front line, the German support line and we were coming back from the German support through the German old front line. We had to cross what was the old No Man’s Land. It was crossing there that a rocket burst amongst us. It killed my three mates, it wounded me. We were on open ground.

September 22nd, half-past ten at night. That’s when I lost them. That’s my Remembrance Day. Armistice Day, you remember the thousands of others who died. For what? For nothing. And today you would never get another trench warfare. Never. Today, you got the internal combustion engine, the one like you drive your car and improvement on that. It’s entitled a man to fly, and today a trench is no good. He simply goes down the trench with his machine gun - that’s it. You’ll never get another trench war.

Being wounded

You didn’t know you were hit. You never heard the bullet or the shell that hit you. All I can remember was a flash, I went down, blew me down. I suppose I had enough sense, I saw the blood, I had a field dressing on. I must have passed out. How long I lay there I don’t know.

Next thing I found I was in a dressing station. The field bandage had gone, the wound had been cleaned and a clean bandage on it. Around about it was a disinfectant of some sort, to keep the blinking lice away from the blood.

I lay there all the next day and the doctor came to me. ‘You can see the shrapnel – it must have been a ricochet.’ It was just buried in. He said to me, ‘Would you like me to take that out?’ I said, ‘How long will you be?’ He said, ‘Before you answer yes. With no anaesthetic in the camp at all, we’d used it on all the people more seriously wounded than you are.’ He said, ‘If I take that shrapnel out it will be as you are now.’ Pain from it was terrific. I said, ‘Alright carry on.’ Four fellahs held me down, one on each arm, one on each leg, and I can feel the cut of that scalpel now as he went through and pulled it out.

The doctor came to me some hours later. He said, ‘You want this shrapnel as a souvenir?’ I said, ‘Throw it away,’ and I never saw it again. I met his son, who was also a doctor, at Buckingham Palace eighty years later. He told me that if the shrapnel was a quarter inch deeper, it would have cut a main artery and that was it.

Going home

The fellah in the next bed said to me, ‘If he writes anything in that book on the table, a green book, you’re for Blighty.’ Well I didn’t believe him, and then some hours later somebody came in, they called my name, my number. I was out on the Red Cross truck down to Rouen … And there we had a bath, got rid of the lice, they burnt our clothing. We could see the hospital ship. We were out on the hospital ship, but never sailed that night. There was a rumour of a submarine in the Channel. We sailed the next night and came to Southampton. I think if I had gone to the field dressing main station, I don’t think I ever would [have sailed]. It was the fact that it was the advanced dressing station and they wanted the beds. Get rid of him.

Mutiny

‘E’ company were about a thousand strong. We had an officer we didn’t like. He used to take us out route marches. We didn’t like it. That afternoon he wanted the ‘E’ company on parade for bayonet practice. The war had been over for months. The sergeant major opened the door. Somebody threw a boot at him. He went back, reported it.

The officer came and they told him flat that they weren’t going out on parade. Well, he went back to the company office and about thirty of the men followed him and they asked for him. He came out, he pulled his revolver out and he clicked the hammer back. Nobody said anything. We had all been on the range. I was on fatigue that morning so I wasn’t on parade. Nobody said anything.

They all went back to their huts and they rounded up what ammunition they could and went back and they asked for the officer again. He was a captain, risen from the ranks. He came out and he clicked the hammer back on his revolver. He said, ‘The first man who says he is not going on parade, I’ll shoot him.’ No sooner had he said that, when thirty bolts went back and somebody shouted, ‘Now shoot you bugger if you like.’ He threw the revolver down, disappeared. We were all run up for a mutiny.

We had a brigadier come over from the mainland to hear the officer’s side of it. Then he said, ‘I want to hear the men.’ Twenty or thirty of the men went behind a screen and they told him. They said, ‘We don’t want bayonet practice. We’ve had the real bloody thing. Some of us are wounded by bayonets.’ The outcome was that there were no parades except just to clear the camp, just fatigues. The officer was moved to a different command. We never saw him again. It’s a damn good job we didn’t.

The price of war

It wasn’t worth it. No war is worth it. No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives let alone thousands. T’isn’t worth it … the First World War, if you boil it down, what was it? Nothing but a family row. That’s what caused it. The Second World War – Hitler wanted to govern Europe, nothing to it. I would have taken the Kaiser, his son, Hitler and the people on his side … and bloody shot them. Out the way and saved millions of lives. T’isn’t worth it.

Breaking the silence

Opposite my bedroom there is a window and there is a light over the top. Now [when the staff go into that room] they put the light on. If I was half asleep – the light coming on was the flash of a bomb. That flash brought it all back. For eighty years I’ve never watched a war film, I never spoke of it, not to my wife. For six years, I’ve been here [in the nursing home]. Six years it’s been nothing but World War One. As I say, World War One is history, it isn’t news. Forget it.
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Laatst aangepast door Regulus 1 op 30 Jul 2007 15:24, in totaal 1 keer bewerkt
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 15:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik ben ook erg blij dat ik ooit wat veteraanen heb mogen ontmoeten.

Het was voor mijn........toen 16 jaar oud ......... een onvergetelijke vervaring.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 15:27    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Toevalstreffer, de krans van Harry op Langemark:

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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 15:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Mooi ! En heel toepasselijk gelegd op het graf van Duitse jongens die sneuvelden tijdens de 3e Slag om Ieper.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 17:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

speechless

Yvonne kun je geen foto plaatsen van wat Mr. Patch in uw boek schreef.A.U.B.
kiss kiss kiss
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 21:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Z'n handtekening Smile

Maar als m'n batterijen opgeladen zijn zal ik er een foto van maken.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Jul 2007 21:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Yvonne @ 30 Jul 2007 22:46 schreef:
Z'n handtekening Smile

Maar als m'n batterijen opgeladen zijn zal ik er een foto van maken.

Cool Very Happy kiss

Hij was in het nieuws te zien,op TV1.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 7:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

dit is erg mooi. hij ziet er nog patent uit, die harry.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 10:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wat ziet Mr. Patch er nog kranig uit voor 109!
Hopelijk mag hij nog een paar jaartjes in goede gezondheid bij ons blijven!
Ik vind het geweldig voor je dat je deze man hebt mogen ontmoeten Yvonne (Ik ken het gevoel, met WO2 vets weliswaar...) Smile
Prachtige fotos trouwens Cool
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 12:29    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wat super Yvonne! Dat boek zal vast een mooie plaats weten te vinden, wat tof zeg.

Ik zag Harry vanochtend op de Belgische Tv op het nieuws
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 13:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Patch @ 30 Jul 2007 16:21 schreef:

The price of war

It wasn’t worth it. No war is worth it. No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives let alone thousands. T’isn’t worth it … the First World War, if you boil it down, what was it? Nothing but a family row. That’s what caused it. The Second World War – Hitler wanted to govern Europe, nothing to it.
I would have taken the Kaiser, his son, Hitler and the people on his side … and bloody shot them. Out the way and saved millions of lives. T’isn’t worth it.

Een breekbare man met een heldere blik en een ruime geest.
De keizer ? Ja de keizer, en zijn zoon.
Of geven we deze oude wijze, indrukwekkende man daarin nu juist ongelijk.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 19:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Yvonne was me blijkbaar voor met een foto van Langemark. Dan vul ik hierbij aan:



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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jul 2007 22:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Deze was ik nog vergeten.
Die rode poppy-krans valt wel op daar in dat volgroen van de begraafplaats.
Het rood trok onmiddellijk mijn aandacht en toen ik in dat beverige handschrift "Harry" meende te lezen,
dacht ik bij mezelf "Yes, dat is het"....


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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Aug 2007 6:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Bron: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=471468&in_page_id=1770

Last survivor re-lives the horrors of Passchendaele
By NIGEL BLUNDELL -

You have to strain to hear Harry Patch. At 109 years old, the last surviving Tommy from the horrors of the trenches in the First World War is growing increasingly frail.
But his mind is every bit as sharp today as it was 90 years ago this week when, as a 19-year-old conscript, he was ordered over the top at the Third Battle of Ypres.
The battle, better known simply as Passchendaele, has become a byword for senseless slaughter.

Bitter memories: Harry Patch at Passchendaele today

More than half a million men were killed or injured during five months of fighting over a few miles of quagmire.

The British commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, had launched his "Flanders Offensive" to relieve exhausted French troops in the south and stop the Germans deploying U-Boats from the Belgian ports.

But the objective soon shrank to the pointless task of taking the ruined Belgian village of Passchendaele.
With the help of The Mail on Sunday, Harry Patch returned for the first time to the spot where his unit waited with increasing anxiety, before being ordered to advance out of the comparative safety of the trenches, across a stream called the Steenbeek and into No Man's Land.
The massive Allied bombardment had turned the fields around Passchendaele into a quagmire that seriously hampered the Flanders Offensive

He came to pay a deeply personal farewell to his three closest comrades – killed by a German shell – and to bear witness to the horrors of trench warfare for one last time.

It was impossible not to be moved as Harry surveyed the landscape from his wheelchair, his eyes misting over at the painful memories of 1917.
Even though the land that was once part of the British front line is now the corner of a farmer's field with the rebuilt Langemarck church in the background, Harry recognised it immediately.
"Yes, this is where it happened," he said. "I can see it in my mind's eye. I remember the cacophony of noise, so loud you couldn't hear the man next to you speaking.

"Shells were whizzing over us towards the German lines just 750 yards away, and their machine-gun bullets were coming in the opposite direction. But what I remember most was the waiting, the anxiety, the fear.
"I have a memory of crossing that stream. It was flooded, with the trees on either side smashed to pieces. We crossed on pontoons because the bridge had been blown up.
"On the far side of the stream we stopped to await the order to advance. The bombardment to cover us took your breath away. The noise was ferocious. There was apprehension in everyone's eyes and horror in a few."
Endless torrential rain and an Allied barrage of more than four million shells that preceded the initial assault on July 31, 1917, turned the battlefield into a quagmire that would bog down the offensive.
Before Allied forces finally captured the town in November 1917, many soldiers were sucked under and drowned, and guns, tanks and horses also sank in the mud.

On the morning of August 16, Harry's battalion of the 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry was given the task of launching an assault on the village of Langemarck.

"The ground we had to cover was just shell holes," Harry recalled.

"There were bodies, both our own and German, from the first wave. It was sickening to see your own dead and wounded, some crying for stretcher-bearers, others semi-conscious and others beyond all hope.

"There were men who had been ripped to pieces – it wasn't just a case of seeing them with a neat bullet-hole in their tunic. Lots of people were crying for help but you couldn't stop.

"It was hellish," he adds in his slight Somerset burr.

"Just one long nightmare from the thunder of the guns as the battle began to the sound of the wounded crying out. You could do nothing to help them. You just had to go forward through all that mud and blood. It was absolutely sickening.

"I remember one lad from our regiment in particular – the memory has haunted me all my life. He was in a pool of blood, ripped open from his shoulder to his waist by shrapnel.

When we got to him he said, 'Shoot me.' But before we could draw a revolver, he was dead.

"And the final word he uttered was 'Mother'. It wasn't a cry of despair, it was a cry of surprise and joy. I think – no, I'm sure – that his mother was in the next world to welcome him and he knew it.

"I've always remembered that cry and that death is not the end – at least I hope that's how it was with my three mates."

Harry, who had been an apprentice plumber in Bath before conscription, was sent to the front line around his 19th birthday in June 1917.

He said: "I didn't want to be there and I never pretended I did. I was conscripted in 1916, by which time the enthusiasm for the war had waned at home.

"I was nervous but I didn't want to reveal my feelings to the others.

"It doesn't matter how much training you've had, you can't prepare for the reality – the noise, the filth, the uncertainty, the casualties. The conditions were awful while we were waiting for the offensive.

"It rained and rained. Water flowed along the bottom of the trench. I'd stand on an ammunition box until it sank into the mud, then put another on top and stand on that.

"There was no sanitation and the place stank. You were filthy. From landing in France in June until coming out in September, I never had a bath nor clean clothes.

"I was put in a Lewis gun team with three others. We became very close – it sounds strange, but we had a pact that we wouldn't kill anyone, not if we could help it.

"We'd fire short, hit them in the legs or fire over their heads, but not kill unless it was them or us."

On the day they went over the top, Harry's team were instructed to provide covering fire for their comrades, who overran the enemy trenches and became involved in hand-to-hand fighting.

"We lay down for cover behind a dead German. I had just changed a magazine when one of them came out of the trench and came straight for us with fixed bayonet.

"He couldn't have had any ammunition, otherwise he would have shot us. I drew my revolver and shot him in the right shoulder.

"He dropped his rifle but still came stumbling on. He called out something to me in German – I don't suppose it was complimentary. I had three live rounds left in that revolver and could have killed him with the first.

"He was only 15 yards away and I couldn't miss, not with a Webley service revolver, not at that range.

"I thought, 'What shall I do?' I had four seconds to make up my mind, and I gave him his life.

"I shot him above the ankle and above the knee and brought him down. He would have been passed back to a PoW camp and rejoined his family after the war.

"I've often wondered whether he realised I gave him his life. Six weeks later, my three best mates were killed by a German bomb. If that had happened before I met that German, I would have damn well killed him."

The assault by Harry's men was over by mid-morning and the survivors waited all afternoon for a counter-attack that never came.

"We were sitting amid a sea of shell holes, up to our knees in gluey, sticky mud. The stench of rotting bodies was terrible. Right across the battlefield, the bodies of the dead and of the wounded would sink out of sight.'

Harry is one of only a handful of First World War veterans still alive. Bill Stone, 106, served in the Navy and was not involved in combat, while Henry Allingham, 111, was a mechanic in the Royal Naval Air Service.

William Young, a former radio operator in the Royal Flying Corps, died last week aged 107.

For his trip back to Flanders, Harry was accompanied by his friend, historian Richard van Emden, his co-author on The Last Fighting Tommy.

Richard scoured maps and photographs taken at the time to pinpoint Harry's battle position.

Staring out across the fields, Harry said: "This was all mud, mud and more mud, mixed together with blood.

"We fought for a few yards of soil and that cost the lives of so many, including my three best friends. There was no excuse for such slaughter for so little gain."

He returned to England six weeks after that first assault. The German shell that killed his three best friends had also left Harry with horrific shrapnel wounds that were later operated on without anaesthetic.

When he lies in bed at his care home in Wells, Somerset, a flash of light outside his room can put him straight back to the horrors of Passchendaele.

"Anyone who tells you they weren't scared is a damned liar. You were scared all the time," he said.

"We lived hour by hour. You saw the sun rise, hopefully you'd see it set. If you saw it set, you hoped you'd see it rise. Some men would, some wouldn't."

After the war Harry went back to plumbing in Somerset and outlived two wives and two sons.

He said: "I went 80 years and never mentioned the war, not even to my family. The memories were too vivid. I bottled it all up for so long. I never even watched a war film.

"But the war is something I can now talk about. In 2004 I went back to Flanders for a memorial service and met a German, Charles Kuentz, who had fought against us.

"We shook hands and agreed on so much about that awful war. A nice old chap, he was. Why he should have been my enemy, I don't know.

"He told me, 'I fought you because I was told to, and you did the same.' It's sad but true.

"What the hell we fought for, I now don't know."
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BerichtGeplaatst: 11 Aug 2007 18:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Silent witness breaks rank
THE LAST FIGHTING TOMMY by Harry Patch with Richard van Emden (Bloomsbury, £16.99)

How amazing is this? Harry Patch, 108, is the only British soldier still alive who fought in the trenches of World War I.

He remembers floundering in the mud and stink of Ypres, sipping his morning rum ration from his mess tin lid to stop his teeth chattering, drinking petrol-flavoured water which was carried up the line in fuel cans and having no bath or clean clothes for the entire four months before shrapnel wounds ended his ordeal.

He remembers rats nibbling his rations, gnawing his boots and scampering across his face at night. At the Battle of Passchendaele, he endured the terror and chaos of going over the top, saw his comrades slaughtered and, in a nightmare instant, the shell that wounded him also killed his three closest friends. He was just 19.

As he writes, in his extraordinary autobiography: 'It was absolutely sickening to see your own dead and wounded, some calling for stretcher-bearers, some beyond help.' Or blown to pieces. Or trampled upon as they sank, screaming, into the mud.

Yet, as Patch reminds us, the trench warfare hell took place nearly a century ago. To be honest, and Patch is extremely honest, he is fed up with being trotted out every Armistice Day for TV interviews. The fact is that for many decades, he never mentioned either of the wars in which he fought, not even to his first wife, to whom he was married for 57 years.

When the 70th anniversaries of the battles of Somme and Passchendaele were commemorated, he was simply not interested.

He says he has always made a point of not watching war films and that 'anything to do with war on television, I turned off straight away. I didn't even like the old wartime songs; they brought back too many memories. Passchendaele was as deeply buried at the back of my mind as I could possibly make it.'

It was while celebrating his 100th birthday at his Somerset nursing home that the media invasion began. People suddenly realised that of an entire generation of five million men who fought in the trenches (average life expectancy: three weeks), Patch is unique living history on legs, articulate, with wonderfully vivid recall. Nowadays a reluctant celebrity war veteran, Patch is keen to point out that his memories of a Somerset boyhood are as fascinating as his wartime reminiscences.

He grew up in the close-knit community of Combe Down where duty, self-sufficiency and churchgoing were taken for granted. His father, a master stonemason, tended a garden with beehives, hens and pigs that fed the family all year round. Today's youngsters can scarcely imagine the freedom of unsupervised outdoor play that Patch enjoyed.

At 14 he became an apprentice plumber, working on Bath's Roman baths and sneaking in for a dip at night. He paid tuppence for scorching wallows in the city's circular 'two-penny scalder', long since closed down.

Then came war. As Patch recalls: 'A number of local lads, some of whom would never come back, were keen to see a bit of adventure.'

This bravado was repeated across rural Britain: teenage boys volunteering for a lark. Patch, 18 months into his apprenticeship, wasn't impressed: 'I didn't want to join up. I came from a very sheltered family ... Army life didn't appeal at all. I had no inclination to fight anybody. Why should I go and kill somebody I never knew, and for what reason? I wasn't at all patriotic.

I went and did what was asked of me and no more.' I read Patch's book sunning myself on a Kent beach. I was surrounded by young men, the same age as Patch when he was sent to Ypres.They were drinking, foul-mouthed, flabby-bellied, ranting obscenely into mobiles and, doubtless, indifferent towards the wartime sacrifices made in the name of freedom by thousands of young men. The past is, indeed, another country.

Many boys from Patch's village have their names carved on the Combe Down war memorial. They were his friends, his generation, and he has outlived them all.

As he writes: 'Why did we fight? At the end of the second war peace was settled around a table, so why the hell couldn't they do that at the start without losing millions of men?' His faith in the Church was shattered. These days, he says, Armistice Day is just showbusiness.

Patch, a splendid old gent with his marbles still intact, has lived through two world wars, the reigns of six monarchs and the ministries of 20 Prime Ministers.

His book, written with the scrupulous and sensitive assistance of battlefields expert Richard van Emden, is a moving, non-sentimental account by the very last witness of a devastating four years in Britain's history.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/books/authors.html?in_article_id=474541&in_page_id=1826
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BerichtGeplaatst: 11 Aug 2007 20:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

het moet voor jullie een hele eer zijn om die man ontmoet te hebben en laten we er ook eens bij stil staan dat de laatste getuigen stilaan aan het verdwijnen zijn en dat wy er gaan moeten voor zorgen dat ze nooit vergeten worden
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laat ons de belgische gesneuvelde soldaten nooit vergeten wat er ook moge gebeuren...... diksmuide...merkem....nieuwpoort ..... de ijzer !!!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Mrt 2008 8:16    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Poem honours WWI veteran aged 109

A poem has been composed by the poet laureate for the oldest surviving veteran who fought in the trenches in World War I, 109-year-old Harry Patch.

Andrew Motion composed the work under a commission from the BBC's Inside Out West programme.

The Prince of Wales introduces the piece, saying Mr Patch, "epitomizes the courage, long-sufferingness and tenacity of his generation".

The poem has five acts, each exploring different stages in Mr Patch's life.

It begins at his childhood home in Combe Down, near Bath, before moving on to the battlefields of the Western Front where Mr Patch saw action as a Lewis gunner for the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.


It's a great honour to have a poem written for me
Harry Patch

In the final act, Mr Patch is depicted in a care home in the city of Wells, where he now lives.

Mr Motion said: "It is by some distance the most interesting of these sorts of commissions that I've done.

"I feel really quite a heavy burden on to me to pay Mr Patch due respect, to celebrate him and honour him, but at the same time not to let those feelings of something approaching awe get in the way of having a normal conversation."

Mr Patch was a plumber by trade before being called up and fighting in the Battle of Passchendaele.

His war was brought to an end when he was wounded by shrapnel from a German shell as he returned from the front line.

He is the second oldest UK survivor from World War I. The oldest is 111-year-old Henry Allingham, who fought in the Battle of Jutland rather than in the trenches like Mr Patch.

In February, he attended a special event at the Bishop's Palace in Wells to hear the poem performed for the first time.

Afterwards he told the poet laureate: "It's a great honour to have a poem written for me by you. That's all I can say."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/7279861.stm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Mrt 2008 8:18    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

War veteran turns on tower lights
Harry Patch
Mr Patch worked as a plumber until he retired in 1961
The oldest known surviving veteran from World War I is visiting Bristol to turn on the lights at the university's newly refurbished Wills Memorial tower.

Harry Patch, 109, from Wells, Somerset, was chosen to throw the switch because he helped build the tower as a plumber back in 1925.

He also attended the tower's opening by King George V and Queen Mary.

He remembers placing newly-minted coins under lead covering a trap door at the top of the tower during the ceremony.

In 2005 the University of Bristol awarded Mr Patch an honorary degree in recognition of his work on the university's landmark building and his service in one of the main World War I battles at Passchendaele, Belgium.

Born in Bath in 1898, Mr Patch had a war posting in Rouen, France, in 1917, but returned to England a year later after a serious shrapnel wound left him in hospital.

He has survived his wife of 58 years and two sons.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bristol/7254286.stm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Apr 2008 10:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Harry Patch: A century's life shaped by four months at war

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 08/03/2008

The Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, explains what made a request to write about 109-year-old Harry Patch, the last surviving First World War soldier, so appealing - and such a challenge

Like most poets, I'm ambivalent about commissioned work. A part of me thinks I should refuse, insisting that poetry is essentially counter-suggestive, bound only by the limits of my imagination. Another part feels gratitude and obligation.



If I were a carpenter, I tell myself, and someone ordered me to make a table, I should be able to knock one up; why should the trade of writing be different? Shakespeare would probably have agreed.

But the fact is, commissions come in all shapes and sizes, and some are easier to fulfil than others. The invitations that come my way range from the frankly mad (I keep these in a special file, so the police have something to go on when my finely chopped body is found in woodland), through the well meant but unlikely (that request for a poem about head lice, so the antidote manufacturers could "raise their profile"), to the unavoidable or the actually appealing.

My decision about what to accept depends on my sense of whether the subject connects with something authentic in my self. Ideally, I'm looking to write something I might have written anyway, if I'd had the wit to think of the idea on my own.

The invitation to write about Harry Patch was the most appealing I've ever received, and came two or three months ago from Rob Wicks, who was making a programme for the BBC's Inside Out West series. (Harry lives in a nursing home in Wells, which lies in Rob's region.)

He wanted me to go and meet Harry, who is 109 years old and the last surviving "Tommy" who fought in the trenches during the First World War, share his memories, then come home to London and write something about him.

If things went well, there would be a second meeting, at which I'd read Harry his poem. All this would be filmed, including my cogitations at home, and broadcast on March 7.

Partly because I've had a life-long fascination with the history and literature of the First World War, partly because I wanted to meet Harry and partly because I liked the challenge of making a programme about something TV rarely tackles (the inwardness of writing), I agreed at once. But when the time came for my first visit to Harry, on Jan 10, I felt apprehensive as well as eager.

Would Harry be fed up with talking about himself? (His autobiography, The Last Fighting Tommy, co-written with Richard van Emden, had suggested as much.) Would he be well enough? (He's 109, for goodness sake.) Would he be embarrassed to be the pored-over subject for a poem? (I found myself prickling when I put myself in his shoes.)

The moment I saw Harry - a sparrow of a man, wheelchair bound but with an astonishingly alert face and self-composed manner, I knew the answer to all these questions was "yes".

But I also knew he would pay me the courtesy of co-operating with the film - partly because he is one of nature's gentlemen, and partly because he's justifiably proud of his celebrity and his story.

Proud, but bashful. Most people who become eminent do so as the result of a definite effort of some kind; Harry has achieved his fame by accident - he never meant to be the last survivor of the trenches.

This emphasises an instinctive modesty in him, and means that his involvement with his own history has remained fresh in spite of many repetitions. It also means he's able to convey a sense of immediacy to others.

As I realised this, I knew it would be possible to write about him.

But write what? Harry has been alive for more than 1,300 months, of which four were spent in Flanders: he was a Lewis gunner in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; he fought at Passchendaele; he was wounded by a shell which killed three of his five-man team; he was invalided back to England; by the time he'd recovered, the war was over.

Before I spoke to Harry I'd decided this period should be the centre of the poem - it was the most dramatic, and the reason why I'd been connected with him.

But the longer we talked, the more interested I became in other aspects of his life - his beautifully remembered childhood in Combe Down near Bath, where his father worked as a mason in the early years of the 20th century; his career as a plumber after the war; his contribution to the building of the Wills Tower in Bristol; his time as a fireman during the Second World War; his immensely long old age, and the changes it witnessed.

All these, I thought, needed their fair share of attention. Whatever I wrote shouldn't just be a war poem. It should be a whole-life poem. And that's what I tried to write - in a form (unrhymed sonnets, each of a single sentence) which would be circuitously slowed-down, like the mechanics of ancient memory, but also headlong as if driven by compulsions.

But the longer I worked on the poem, the more deeply I realised that everything Harry had told me, and everything in his strikingly good book, was shadowed by the war - even when the subject had nothing to do with fighting.

Harry's early memories of nibbling the apples and pears from his father's fruit trees, which he reached by crawling along the potato furrows, are couched in language that anticipates his time in Flanders. His post-war account of a lightning strike on the Wills Tower echoes the shell-blast that killed his friends. His more recent night-time memory flashes, triggered by lights in his nursing home, show the war continuing in his head 90 years after the Armistice.

I decided there was nothing for it but to allow such parallels to give the poem its structure, just as they have given Harry's life its particular significance and pathos.

It's impossible to gauge the extent to which this life-shape has been accentuated by Harry's emergence as the sole survivor, and the persistent questioning by people such as myself. The likely answer is: greatly.

On the other hand, war experiences seem to become more important to the rememberer as life continues - I noticed the same thing in my late father, who was a veteran of the D-Day landings.

Whatever the answer, nothing can now unsettle Harry's concentration on the war. Throughout our conversations he wore his medals, even when insisting: "I do feel a fraud sometimes, when people think I am special in some way." When we eventually said goodbye after he'd listened to me reading his poem, he handed me a box of chocolates. The brand name? Heroes.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/03/08/bomotion108.xml
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Apr 2008 10:57    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

mooi!!!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Apr 2008 10:57    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Five Acts of Harry Patch

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 08/03/2008

The Five Acts of Harry Patch
'The Last Fighting Tommy'
by Andrew Motion


I.

A curve is a straight line caught bending
and this one runs under the kitchen window
where the bright eyes of your mum and dad
might flash any minute and find you down
on all fours, stomach hard to the ground,
slinking along a furrow between the potatoes
and dead set on a prospect of rich pickings,
the good apple trees and plum trees and pears,
anything sweet and juicy you might now be
able to nibble around the back and leave
hanging as though nothing were amiss,
if only it were possible to stand upright
in so much clear light and with those eyes
beady in the window and not catch a packet.

II.

Patch, Harry Patch, that's a good name,
Shakespearean, it might be one of Hal's men
at Agincourt or not far off, although in fact
it starts life and belongs in Combe Down
with your dad's trade in the canary limestone
which turns to grey and hardens when it meets
the light, perfect for Regency Bath and you too
since no one these days thinks about the danger
of playing in quarries when the workmen go,
not even of prodding and pelting with stones
the wasps' nests perched on rough ledges
or dropped from the ceiling on curious stalks
although god knows it means having to shift
tout suite and still get stung on arms and faces.

III.

First the hard facts of not wanting to fight,
and the kindness of deciding to shoot men
in the legs but no higher unless needs must,
and the liking among comrades which is truly
deep and wide as love without that particular name,
then Pilckem Ridge and Langemarck and across
the Steenbeek since none of the above can change
what comes next, which is a lad from A Company
shrapnel has ripped open from shoulder to waist
who tells you "Shoot me", but is good as dead
already, and whose final word is "Mother",
which you hear because you kneel to hold
one finger of his hand, and then remember orders
to keep pressing on, support the infantry ahead.

IV.

After the big crowd to unveil the memorial
and no puff left in the lungs to sing O valiant hearts
or say aloud the names of friends and one cousin,
the butcher and chimney sweep, a farmer, a carpenter,
work comes up the Wills Tower in Bristol and there
thunderstorms are a danger, so bad that lightning
one day hammers Great George and knocks down
the foreman who can't use his hand three weeks
later as you recall, along with the way that strike
burned all trace of oxygen from the air, it must have,
given the definite stink of sulphur and a second
or two later the gusty flap of a breeze returning
along with rooftops below, and moss, and rain
fading over the green Mendip Hills and blue Severn.

V.

You grow a moustache, check the mirror, notice
you're forty years old, then next day shave it off,
check the mirror again - and see you're seventy,
but life is like that now, suddenly and gradually
everyone you know dies and still comes to visit
or you head back to them, it's not clear which
only where it happens: a safe bedroom upstairs
by the look of things, although when you sit late
whispering with the other boys in the Lewis team,
smoking your pipe upside-down to hide the fire,
and the nurses on night duty bring folded sheets
to store in the linen cupboard opposite, all it takes
is someone switching on the light - there is that flash,
or was until you said, and the staff blacked the window.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/03/08/bomotion208.xml
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Nov 2008 23:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Well, you could argue that, as with all anniversaries the media lock onto, we've had overload - over the past few weeks the First World War has featured everywhere. It's certainly been usefulto me professionally, as I'm currently teaching it as a literature topic. During the week I've been collecting The Guardian's series of booklets on the war and they've been fascinating. I paid more attention than usual to Sunday's Remembrance service and was so moved by the three surviving veterans, Bill Stone (108), Henry Allingham (112) and Harry Patch (110), visiting the Cenotaph on Tuesday with their wreaths of poppies. On Sunday I recorded the programmes about Wilfred Owen and about Vera Brittain, who lost all the men she loved during the war, including her brother Edward, towards the very end of it. On PoemRelish, my other blog, I mentioned her memoir, 'Testament of Youth' among other books worth reading about WW1. On Sunday I found myself wondering why, among this plethora of 1914-18 nostalgia and analysis, the Beeb wasn't repeating the excellent serial version of 'Testament of Youth' first broadcast in the 1970s. It starred Cheryl Campbell as Vera and it was a truly powerful and poignant piece of television drama which brought me to the book, before I ever had to teach it. Now I've found out that, apparently, they're remaking it, so that's why the original was not shown. Hmn. Mixed feelings: it's good in a way that they are, as hopefully it will bring more people to awareness (and we have to rely on the TV screen more than the written word for this these days). There's no reason to assume they won't make a good job of it second time round. But on the other hand, there's that old saying 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' The original was brilliant - why not just re-show it?

I've just finished reading 'The Last Fighting Tommy', the biography of Harry Patch, who is the last man in Britain who actually fought in the trenches. He fought - and was wounded - at Passchendaele. Harry Patch featured on the BBC a few years back and has become famous for his longevity and his memories; his fame has grown as the number of survivors has declined and we all find ourselves unnerved at the prospect of the First World War sliding inevitably out of living memory. He is a man of immense spirit, who didn't really talk about his experiences until he was in his nineties. His eyes still fill with tears when he recalls what he saw and felt. At first I felt a slight disappointment with the book as the war experience (the thing that, essentially, is used to sell the book) doesn't take up all that much space. He trains, he goes over there, he sees the bad stuff, he's wounded by shrapnel, he's invalided home, all in a matter of months. Is that it, then? Well, no. It dawned on me that that's the point: this is the story of an immensely old man, on whom those few months made a great and terrible and lasting impression. His memories lurked within him all through the decades that followed and they have never left him, though all the friends and fellow soldiers, two wives, two sons, and a whole way of life have departed. The book is worth reading because not only does it tell you about that war, it tells you of a century of British life and culture. Harry's childhood was Edwardian: no running water, little awareness of the outside world, little material wealth, harmony with nature. He was a child for whom news of the sinking of the Titanic was of little interest - it took place beyond the narrow limits of his West Country life. After the First World War and during the Second, where he served as a member of the local fire crew during the bombing of Bath, Harry was the sort of Englishman who just got on with life: he is and was, essentially, a decent man, uncomplaining, raising his family, going to work to earn his crust as a plumber, a man who believed in a right way of doing things, who has no patience with pretentiousness or self-indulgence. Bless you, Harry, and even longer life to you: we don't want to lose you, our twentieth century Everyman.

©
http://literascribe.blogspot.com/2008/11/last-fighting-tommy.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Apr 2009 13:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Uit een interview van 2007, zelfde jaar als zijn bezoek naar Ieper:

The afternoon is wearing on and Mr Patch is tired. He pauses to listen to the children playing. What does it feel like to be the last of those millions, that army of ghosts?

"I don't like it," he says and then adds: "I sit there and think. And some nights I dream - of that first battle. I can't forget it.

"I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: 'Mother'. I didn't see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God's presence.

"I've never got over it. You never forget it. Never.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3633344/Ive-never-got-over-it.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Apr 2009 9:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dit is al lang een heel vertrouwde passage voor mij. Het stukje video waar Patch dit vertelt, is al een tijdje verplicht beeldmateriaal in mijn lessen Engels. Ik herinner me dat je verleden schooljaar een 'speld kon horen vallen' in de klas en sommige meisjes hadden tranen in de ogen.
Er is trouwens nog een sterkere scène met Patch als hij Tyne Cot overschouwt en zegt : 'Look at them. All dead. Why did they die ? ....
No ...... Ik was ooit met Harry Patch en Halestrap op Tyne Cot en Halestrap bracht een eresaluut aan de muur der Vermisten. Zie bijhorende foto. Toen Patch voor het graf stond van een jongen die hij had gekend, stonden de volwassenen rond hem met zakdoeken hun tranen weg te vegen. Ik was er met leerlingen van 17 jaar. Het heeft me enige overtuigingskracht gevergd hen te doen geloven dat deze man hier vlakbij in de loopgraven zat in 1917.

[img]
[/img]

Arthur Halestrap en Harry Patch op 12 november 2002 op Tyne Cot
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Jul 2009 12:52    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hedenmorgen is Harry overleden.

Nu is het klaar, nu is het voorbij.
Rust.
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