WW1 SURVIVORS - WHO COUNTS AND WHO DOESN'T ?

 

Text Box: Sadly for the world, his family and for the eternal shame of the UK, Claude died on the 5th May 2011 aged 110 without the recognition of his homeland which he richly deserved. God Bless him and may he always RIP. For my part, I will never wear my medals again and I am ashamed of the RBL and the RNA who I thought would stick up for this man, his service to our country, and therefore record for all posterity that he was the last service combatant in the British Forces engaged in WW1 Theatres of war, to die.

 

 

 

How to get the best from this file.

WHAT FOLLOWS WORKS PERFECTLY WELL USING THE IE BROWSER, BUT I CAN'T GUARANTEE IT DOING SO IF YOU USE A DIFFERENT BROWSER.

This file has two sound bytes.  One is embedded in the page and one is linked to the page.  The embedded file which is the radio interview taken from ABC Perth [WA] starts automatically [you have no control over it] but the linked BBC file has to be clicked to start it off.  Both files will compete for your sound card/speakers so they cannot be run simultaneously.  The embedded file [a large file of 17 Megs] will start to download as soon as the page is open [streaming] but unless your browser is kept fully loaded it will play in fits and starts.  This will largely be affected by the speed of your internet connection.  The linked file [a smaller MP3 file] downloads and buffers as soon as you click the link.  Therefore, I suggest you proceed as follows. Turn your speakers off  now [as soon as you have read this instruction] and continue to read the page as normal and view the graphics. By the time you have read all, the embedded file will have fully downloaded with a normal speed broadband connection. At the end of the read, turn your speakers on and then click your browser Refresh button, more than once if necessary. The ABC Perth [WA] radio interview will start.  When it has finished, you can then move to the linked BBC file and click on the link provided to start it.

This is a story which only you can judge, so when you close the page, decide whether the outcome is right or wrong.

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 11th November 2009, HM The Queen will lead a congregation celebrating the passing of our last three WW1 servicemen who actually saw war service between the years of 1914 and 1918. They were William STONE in January aged 108; Henry ALLINGHAM in July aged 113 and Harry PATCH in August aged 118. A massive page of history has been turned by their deaths.  In a moment I will be showing you an email which outlines this service which takes place in Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile, in Australia, there is an ex pat, and Englishman by birth, whose name is Claude CHOULES.  He is now 108 years of age.

He was born in 1901 in England and by the age of 14 he was in a training ship and by the age of 16 [1917] he had joined the battleship HMS Revenge.  She was carrying the flag of the second in command of the Grand Fleet, one Admiral Madden. I leave it you to decide whether this ship, and thus its crew, were on ACTIVE SERVICE as the SECOND BOSS OF THE BRITISH GRAND FLEET in 1917 !  Remember that boys' were treated with more respect at this stage because one year before in 1916, at Jutland, Boy 1st Class Jack Cornwell had been awarded a Victoria Cross proving that boys' were not passengers but proper ACTIVE SERVICE crew members.

It is reasonable to believe that most of the crew of this giant ship were British, although when we remember the Hood in a different war, she had quite a few non-Brits in her crew.  Notwithstanding the nationalities of others, Claude was not only British but English, not that that matters for he was no more important than a Taffy or a Jock or a Paddy, but mentioned just to make a point that when on ACTIVE SERVICE he was BRITISH.

He survived the war, and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  In addition, he was awarded a WAR GRATUITY.  These awards are part of those criteria used to judge the bona fides of WW1 veterans and are shown below in his Service Certificate [SC].

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Any details required on these pictures please do not hesitate to email me.

After the war, he was selected for co-option into the RAN [Royal Australian Navy] to assist them in their embryonic set-up years. He served in the RAN, rose to the rate of a Chief Petty Officer, and upon retirement elected to remain there as an Australian. The newspaper article on this page tells you more about him and his many exploits.

There he remains to this day, seemingly a quiet,  unassuming elderly gentleman with a sound mind and alert lucid brain, who has just completed his autobiography which goes on sale quite soon now.

The following newspaper cutting was sent to me by my friend Graham [Sandy] McNab who is an Australian with RAN connections.

On learning about this gentleman I asked the BBC why it was that we, the general British public,  hadn't been informed [at least not as often as we should have been] about this BRITISH MAN at the time of WW1 but Australian from post WW1 years,  for surely he is now the eldest surviving British WW1 veteran who was subjected to ACTIVE SERVICE in the Royal Navy in 1917. As I write this page, no answer has been received.

I then asked the RBL [Royal British Legion] whether they knew about this man.

 

Subject: WW1 SURVIVING BRITISH SERVICEMEN
Message: First off please see this webpage which is a pre requisite to understanding my message http://www.godfreydykes.info/BRITISH_WW1_VETERANS.htm*. Given that the BBC has regularly told us that the death of Harry Patch et al  saw the last of the British survivors of WW1, are you familiar with this story now posted on my website? Sincerely. Godfrey Dykes Royal Navy 1953-1983

* That page has now been stood down.

Their reply was:

Hi Godfrey:
 
I can't speak for other people, but the Legion is always careful to describe the death of Harry Patch as "the last British veteran to have seen active service in the First World War," which I believe to be accurate.
 
Kind regards,
 
Robert
 
Robert Lee
Head of Media and Campaigns
The Royal British Legion
199 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1AA
T: 020 3207 2235 M: 07798 654 071 E: rlee@britishlegion.org.uk W: www.britishlegion.org.uk
 "The Legion's mission is to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces."
Charity No: 219279

I felt that my email had not been satisfactorily answered, so:

Thank you for your speedy and courteous reply.
However I am amazed that the RBL do not consider the Flagship of the Second in Command of the Grand Fleet [Admiral Madden] in 1917 to be on active service.  Many in the RN would take gross exception to that assumption. However, you did not answer my question which was to ask the RBL if they were aware of this story and thus of the man. It would be nice to receive a plain and simple answer please.  Claude Choules was born in 1901.  According to the article he joined HMS Revenge in 1917 as a 16 year old boy VERY MUCH on ACTIVE SERVICE. Sincerely. Godfrey DYKES.

In their second email, they said:

Hi Godfrey

 

I wonder if perhaps there is some confusion around the "British" bit and which citizenship Claude now maintains - we are aware of Claude of course but are guided by the official advice on these matters.

 

I trust you understand we must be guided by the Government and the Palace on this matter; it's really down to them, not us. As HM the Queen is leading a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey tomorrow for the First World War generation, I believe the decision has been made.

 

Kind regards,

 

Robert

 

Robert Lee

Head of Media and Campaigns

The Royal British Legion

199 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1AA

T: 020 3207 2235 M: 07798 654 071 E: rlee@britishlegion.org.uk W: www.britishlegion.org.uk

 "The Legion's mission is to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces."

Charity No: 219279

 

To me, this was a transparent statement which took no account of the fact that Claude did his fighting in WW1 on the British side whilst being a Britisher, not as he now is, an Australian. It clearly debars him, nay, ostracises him from wearing a 'crown' he richly deserves to wear as did, in their turn, the recently deceased "eldest known WW1 veterans".  I also believe that were his story to become more well known over here, the British people would embrace him as they did Harry PATCH at the end of his tenure. I therefore sent the following message to the RBL:

Thank you.  I am sure that the many readers of my web site and the many naval people who will receive my emails will be extremely interested in your reply. As far as I am concerned, Claude fought for the British as a British citizen i.e. before his naval services were co-opted by HM Government to serve in Australia to assist that country build its navy on the lines of the Royal Navy. He didn't go there voluntarily - he was sent there, although fortunately it appears that he was well pleased.  I wear my medals with great pride but my faith in the system has been dented by this experience.  Godfrey Dykes Royal Navy 1953-1983

The final email in the exchange was from the RBL which left me in doubt that they didn't want me to respond, so I didn't.

Godfrey
 
The simple fact is that 2009 saw the passing of the last three UK veterans of the First World War generation, and a service is being held at Westminster Abbey tomorrow to recognise this fact.
 
From the Westminster Abbey website: http://www.westminster-abbey.org/worship/special-services/upcoming-special-services/2009/november/a-service-to-commemorate-the-passing-of-the-world-war-i-generationAs an update [2015] this URL is,  as one might expect,  time expired. Not being able to read it does not lessen the impact [hopefully] of my website.
 
 
A Service to Mark the Passing of the World War I Generation11 November 2009 at 11:00 am
 
Sixteen million people died in the First World War. The grim death toll included 885,000 British soldiers, sailors and airmen and another 109,000 civilians.
 
This year saw the passing of the UK’s three remaining First World War military veterans – 108-year-old William Stone in January, 113-year-old Henry Allingham at the end of July and 111-year-old Harry Patch a few weeks later.
 
On Wednesday 11 November 2009 Westminster Abbey will remember the passing of their generation. The service will be attended by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh together with senior politicians, military commanders, the families of the thousands of ex-servicemen who gave their lives and hundreds of people from all over the country who simply wish to pay their own tribute.
 
- I really am at a loss to understand your strident objection to this but I have attempted to explain our position and as we are very busy preparing for Armistice Day tomorrow, must draw this conversation to a close.
 
Robert
 
 
Robert Lee
Head of Media and Campaigns
The Royal British Legion
199 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1AA
T: 020 3207 2235 M: 07798 654 071 E: rlee@britishlegion.org.uk W: www.britishlegion.org.uk
 "The Legion's mission is to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces."
Charity No: 219279

As a gut reaction, I considered my local TV station, asking them for a story-support.  In fairness the young man I spoke with on the "planning desk" of BBC Look East at the Norwich HQ was totally out of his depth, citing that tomorrow, Remembrance Day proper, the programme was top-loaded with the Afghanistan story. He was let down when he told me that the story was of no local interest and that in any event Claude appears to be dong very well out of it Australian-wise and that he had adequate cover down under - didn't Harry PATCH "do well out of it also" ?

That concludes my story.  As far as the establishment is concerned, we as a country have no further living link with WW1. I consider that sheer arrogance.

I send you all fraternal greetings, with a wish for no more wars, but with a desire to acknowledge and salute those who are still alive and were willing in their youth,  to put their lives on the line.  Thank God that is was not necessary in Claude's case. Claude, be it known at your end, that back here  in the UK,  your name is now an ICON and that we love and respect your life even if our Government doesn't.  God Bless.

Today is Wednesday the 18th of November 2009 and today I received this email from No 10 Downing Street.

Your petition has been rejected‏
From: 10 Downing Street (number10@petitions.pm.gov.uk)
Sent: 18 November 2009 15:45:39
To: godfreydykes@msn.com
 Hi,
 
I'm sorry to inform you that your petition has been rejected.
 
Your petition was classed as being in the following categories:
 
* Statements that don't actually request any action
 
Further information: Your title should be a clear call for
action, preferably starting with a verb, and not a name or
statement.
 
If you wish to edit and resubmit your petition, please follow
the following link:
 http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/claudechoules/AU17poAgPkl4AirNYaArBMc
 
You have four weeks in which to do this, after which your
petition will appear in the list of rejected petitions.
 
Your petition reads:
 
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'Godfrey
DYKES'
 
to recognise that claude choules, now aged 108 and residing in
australia, royal navy during world war one serving in the
flagship hms revenge in 1917, is now britains oldest surviving
world war one veteran on the death of harry patch. that his
name should be revered and acknowledged by the government for
all to see, enabling the royal british legion to actively
cherish his name during his life time.
 
-- the ePetitions team - I reiterate that I do not understand why the text is in lower casing.

To signal to, and to tie-up loose ends, I sent the following email to those people whom I involved and who, by and large, responded encouragingly.  Thank you and my eternal gratitude.

Hello
Tonight I received this email from 10 Downing Street.
As I get older, I get more and more sceptical of the Establishment, and whilst I take on board their need for grammatical excellence, I am nevertheless disillusioned and willing to cede that I have lost the case.......the need for a petition. My e-petition, for all its faults, was unequivocal.  I think that this answer is a protectionist ploy to frustrate my request to have this man acknowledged to be the oldest living British combatant still alive who fought in WW1, and thus,  a way to protect the UK Government in its claim that on Wednesday the 11th of November 2009, a Westminster Abbey ceremony laid to rest for all time, the memory of OUR LAST world war one combatant. I deem it grossly offensive that my Queen was made to lead this charade, SHE later to know that this wasn't nor is the case. Like most of you, I have a life to lead which excites and nourishes me to achieve greater things, and it is to that end that I will engage my best endeavours.  I have therefore chosen to drop my petition or any other related actions in favour of Claude's status.  With my best regards to all.
 
P.S. My webpage [which will be signalled to you separately] will be updated accordingly.
 
P.P.S. I sent my "petition" to many private email addressees and the vast majority responded in  a positive way.  I also sent it to many of the Associations I belong to, or to main-line pro-Naval advocates. These included  Lascaris, RNCCA, RNCA, RNA, NAVY NEWS, non of whom bothered to acknowledge the receipt of my email let alone to signal their reaction to it.  It was a lone-shot-in-the-dark and as such, could never be a winner or a headline grabber.

Claude is already 108 years of age, so time is not his best friend or anchor. When this man dies, how will the British Government record his passing ?

In French they say "á bas" which means "down with" and for my money I say á bas the PC British Government.

My good friend Graham [Sandy] McNab ex RAN, my feed for my original story line, has further enhanced my page by pointing out the following file which I commend to you.  It shows Claude's naval service including each and every ship he served in with dates of course. Click here, and thanks Sandy. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/dol/images/examples/royalnavy/choules-adm-188-767.pdf

As I write these final lines, let me remind you all of the RBL's modus operandi  which is

 "The Legion's mission is to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces."

I am not a member of the RBL, this despite my 30 years of service in the Royal Navy, but my wife is the Chair Person of a RBLWS Branch.  I have no intention of joining and my wife, although she agrees, there is little she can do about the situation. 

The motto of the RNA is 'ONCE NAVY ALWAYS NAVY' but, are we all in the same boat ? Irrespective of whether an old sailor wants to join the Association or not, when their persona is inevitably brought to the pages of history, our history, as is the case of Claude Choules as the last living British sailor/serviceman to have been on active service in WW1, the RNA should lobby for his status to be acknowledged as such.  I feel sure that Harry PATCH, had he known, would have willing passed his 'crown' to Claude, so that he in his turn would be the centre of attraction as indeed Harry was, and deservedly so.  We are told that Harry didn't always enjoy the media coverage surrounding him, and certainly from what we have heard from Australia, Claude would shun it totally.  Nevertheless, national icons don't always have a say in matters of State which alone dictate the manner in which we revere them for all posterity.  The wheels of State are oiled by lobbyists and the RNA should be busying itself to that end.  I will review my membership of the RNA when the 2010 subscription is due !
 

A recent visit to  the Downing Street e-petitions to view the currently shown lists of petitions has revealed many of interest .  There are so many of them and therefore I have filtered out those which directly affect the Armed Forces in some way or other and they can be found in this file CURRENT DOWNING ST FORCES' PETITIONS.doc

UPDATE 23rd November 2009. This article comes from the AUSTRALIAN NAVY NEWS and can be found on page 7.



 

IF THE AUSTRALIANS CAN DO IT THEN WHY CAN'T WE ?  THE AUSTRALIANS, I KNOW, ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO CELEBRATING CLAUDE'S 109th BIRTHDAY ON THE 3rd MARCH 2010 AND WITH REALISM AFORETHOUGHT, LESS SO FOR HIS PASSING FROM US AS OUR LAST WW1 VETERAN.

The following text document is an email sent by Gary Booth, an executive in the Australian MOD,  to Graham [Sandy] McNab my Australian feed-point for the overall story.  Sandy forwarded it to me for information.  I sought permission direct from Mr Booth to use it verbatim on this page.  He graciously agreed and I thank him for that and his encouraging words.

UNCLASSIFIED

Hello Sandy,
 
I  returned from leave last week and have only had the opportunity to visit Godfrey Dkyes webpage, which makes for an interesting read.  The reason I write Sandy, is that you may want to pass on to Godfrey advice that in 2006, the BBC did a documentary on the remaining (from memory) eight British WW1 Veterans living.  Guess who the BBC travelled to Australia to visit and interview?  Yes, Claude. 
 
So obviously in 2006, the BBC did acknowledge Claude as one of the remaining British WW1 Veterans!
 
I saw the documentary at the time and of the remaining veterans, Claude was the most mobile and coherent of the lot.  Must be something to do with our Australian climate!
 
From someone who has spent some time with Claude and his family, well done to Godfrey for his efforts in correcting this oversight.
 
We had Claude's book launch in the Wardroom last week, which was quite successful, with a large number of his family present along with a good turn out of Officers and Senior Sailors.  You should see an article and book review in Navy News early in the New Year (I think we missed the cut off for the final edition).
 
3,000 copies have been run by Hesperien  Publishers here in Perth.  I don't know what, if any, distribution will occur in the East.
 
kind regards,
 
Gary

Gary Booth 
Regional Manager 
Defence Public Affairs WA
(T) 08 9553 2535
(F) 08 9553 2454
(M) 0418 223 807

 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Australian Defence Organisation and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email.
 

 

I have recently learned that Claude's book 'The Last of the Last' has no licence [under contractual rules] allowing it to be sold in the UK which includes UK internet sites.  There is a possibility that "an altered or amended or abridged version" of the book may go on sale in the UK sometime in 2010 but details of such a contract have yet to be sorted out and issued if at all. * See note below

Quite recently on the 11th December 2009, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation [Perth, Western Australia] put out a radio interview with Claude [note that they call him Choule and not Choules] and these few words are taken from their website:-

QUOTE.  Just before Remembrance Day we brought you the story of Claude Choule, Britain's last remaining World War One veteran who at the incredible age of 108 years old is living, not in England, but in a retirement village in Perth.

We spoke to his daughter Daphne about her father's life on the eve of the publication of his autobiography called 'The last of the last'.

Claude Choule is just that following the death earlier this year of Harry Patch at the age of 111. Now Claude is just one of three remaining World War One veterans, the other two an American and a Canadian.

After that talk with Daphne, Geoff went to visit Claude to talk to him about his life.

Now he's an old fella, he doesn't hear too well and the interview got off to an interesting start when Geoff asked how he felt when he had his first taste of battle. There was a hilarious few minutes there while Claude tried to remember when he first tasted butter. {My bold and underlining and following comment. Geoff is not being condescending in the way he asks Claude his questions but does so because of Claude's hearing limitation}.

We wanted to record this grand man's voice because these things need to be recorded and they need to be remembered.

Geoff knelt beside Claude to record just a part of his remarkable life and thanks to the technical genius of Martin Roth; we are pleased to bring the interview to you. UNQUOTE

They also placed that radio interview on the website and issued the URL.  However, it is the normal practice to maintain such web pages for a limited period only usually up to ten days, and so that interview is not lost to the general public I have reproduced it here as a Shock Wave Flash [SWF] file.  The copyright for all times belongs to the ABC [Perth WA] and I thank them for the use of their article in this story. One further point.  Claude mentions that he was a "skipper" in the Flagship HMS Revenge.  In the navy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a skipper was a junior officer, usually a sub lieutenant, who was placed in charge of a small craft or vessel.  Many died when in such commands and are revered and remembered as Skippers on their memorials and documentation. Claude's reference to being a skipper, relates to his time when as a Leading Boy [an official rating in the navy] he would have been a coxswain in a cutter or a whaler crewed by the large Boys' Division in the Revenge. Now listen to the voice, the strong and proud voice, of Claude Choules, Britain's last surviving WW1 sailor, who, being a crew member of a British Flagship in 1917, saw action in that war. It is a warm and friendly, typical Aussie interview.

Now turn on your speakers and then click on your REFRESH button to listening to the ABC radio interview.  When you have finished click on this link to listen to the BBC radio interview and read the text below which is associated with it:-

Tonight, Remembrance Day, the 11th November 2009, the BBC, on Radio 4, broadcasted the following interview with Claude Choules, which went out at approximately 1800. I have reprocessed the transmission into a MP3 file for your convenience, and moreover, it will stay on my web site when the BBC archives [BBC ipod etc] are no more. Enjoy.

CLAUDE CHOULES  MP3_PG01_M004.mp3

Today, the 14th December 2009, Sandy McNab kindly sent me information {four cameo's} which he has copied from Claude's book. I place them here to whet your appetite for acquiring this book.

Click to enlarge

 

Click to enlarge

 

Click to enlarge

 

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* I received the book as a Christmas present.  My sister, who had visited Australia flew home to the UK in mid December.  Whilst there [WA & NSW] she had purchased the book {without even knowing of my web page story} simply because of the sailor story which she thought I would like. I am therefore privileged and possibly the only person in the UK with a copy of this book at Christmas time 2009.

The book is an enjoyable read and gives much detail of Claude's service in WW1 and in the royal navy. It has many pictures of Claude and his family. Perhaps of the greatest interest is that Claude served the Crown either in the Royal Navy or in the Royal Australian Navy proper plus related Australian Naval Services, for no less a period than forty one years. Contrary to the statements made in the ABC Perth [WA] radio interview about leaving England because he didn't like it, the book tells of how proud he has always been of the Royal Navy and of the British Royal Family.  Indeed, one of his most precious belongings is his 1953 Queen Elizabeth the Second Coronation Medal.  Reading this book strengthens my understanding that Claude Choules is THE LAST OF THE LAST of British men who fought in WW1 against the Germans and their allies.

I commend him to you.

Since writing all above, I have taken a break watching and listening as it were. I am appalled that a section of the Media has put forward a 108 year British great {and others possibly] grandmother as the last surviving British Veteran of WW1.  She joined as a Steward in the last two weeks of the war in 1918 and waited-on in the officers mess at an airfield. Without wishing to hurt her or her family, I consider her to be a second best alternative to Claude given his age, year in which he joined, and his war service proper, and hardly a VETERAN in the accepted sense. I have also resigned from the RNA and wish nothing further to do with the RBL.

Today, I received this article from a Western Australia newspaper {21st February 2010} and my thanks go to Graham [Sandy] McNab for his usual kindness in sending it to me. Sandy comments that Claude looks very very tired! The article salutes his forthcoming 109th birthday.

CC Sunday Times 21 02 10.pdf

Date line 7th March 2010.  Just back from holiday when Sandy McNab sent me the latest from Australia, the 109th birthday of Claude Choules.  We say an enthusiastic Happy Birthday to you sir.

and this his 110th birthday tribute mentioned on the ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY media

Navy’s Oldest Celebrates 110th Birthday - 3 March 2011 By Mr Gary Booth

 
 

 

Portrait of World War One Navy Veteran Mr Claude Choules sitting in the Gracewood Retirement Village loungeroom in Salter Point, Western Australia.

On behalf of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane Chief of Navy, has congratulated Claude Choules on his 110th birthday.

Claude the only surviving former serviceman of World War I and II, celebrated his 110th birthday today, surrounded by family and friends, along with a small group of personnel from HMAS Stirling at the Perth retirement village where he now lives.

Captain Brett Wolski, Commanding Officer HMAS Stirling, in wishing Claude a very happy birthday on behalf of the Chief of Navy and the wider Navy family, described Claude as a ‘living national treasure’.

Speaking on behalf of her father, daughter Anne said: ‘Dad was always proud of his Navy service and considered it his other family. We are grateful for the Navy’s continued association with our father and family.’

Claude Choules Navy Background:

A former Royal Navy World War I and Royal Australian Navy World War II veteran, Claude’s life has spanned the existence of the Australian Navy, which came into being on 1 March 1901, only two days before his birth.

Born in Pershore, England on 3 March 1901, Mr Choules joined the Royal Navy as a Boy in 1916, and served in the Naval Training Ship HMS Impregnable situated at Devonport dockyard. The Impregnable had been a 140 gun square-rigged wooden battleship prior to becoming a training ship.

In 1917, Claude joined the battleship HMS Revenge, Flagship of the First Battle Squadron. While serving in Revenge, Claude witnessed the surrender of the German Fleet at Firth of Forth in 1918, ten days after the Armistice and later the scuttling of the German Fleet, by the Germans, at Scapa Flow.

A ‘big ships man’, Claude served in the battleship Valiant with the Mediterranean Fleet between 1920 and 1923. A subsequent posting saw him stand by the construction of the RN’s first purpose built aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, which was followed by a two year posting as a Petty Officer onboard Eagle, again in the Mediterranean Fleet.

In 1926 along with eleven other RN senior sailors, Claude came to Australia on loan as an Instructor at Flinders Naval Depot. Taking a liking to the Australian way of life, Claude decided to transfer permanently to the RAN.

After courses in the for Chief Torpedo and Anti Submarine Instructor, Claude stood by the building of the RAN’s heavy cruisers Australia (II) and Canberra (I). Claude was a commissioning crew member of HMAS Canberra (I) and served in her until 1931.

Claude took his discharge from the RAN in 1931, however he remained in the RANR and rejoined the RAN in 1932 as a CPO Torpedo and Anti Submarine Instructor.

During World War II, Claude was the Acting Torpedo Officer, Fremantle and also the Chief Demolition Officer on the western side of the Australian Continent. Early in the war Claude was flown to Esperance, on Western Australia’s southern coast, to identify a mine washed ashore nearby. Eventually the mine was identified as German and Claude then disposed of the first mine to wash up on Australian soil during WWII.

As the Chief Demolition Officer, Claude had the task of destroying facilities and oil storage tanks in Fremantle harbour rendering them useless in the advent of a Japanese invasion.

For a number of weeks during the dark days of 1942, explosive charges were in place to carry out this task. Claude had depth charges placed in ships that had been unable to sail from Fremantle for safe harbour in Albany during this period, with the intent of sinking them should the Japanese invade.

Claude remained in the RAN after WWII and transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police (NDP) to allow him to remain in the service until 1956, as retirement from the RAN for ratings in those days was at 50 years, while personnel could serve until 55 years old in the NDP.

After retirement from the Naval Dockyard Police, Claude purchased a Cray fishing boat and spent ten years fishing off the Western Australia coast.

Sunday 8th May 2011

I am waiting for press cuttings from Australia which I will use to put this story to bed !  In the meantime, the coverage of Claude's death here in the UK was sparse to say the least, with no special TV memorial programme to accompany the standard TV News broadcasts and the static press coverage of his passing. His death coincided with domestic political issues [referendum on AV 'votes counting' system and elections to local Councils {5th May} - far more important of course - and, although all deaths are sad, particularly those of the young and relatively young people, the sad passing of the Spanish [and of course, international] golf player Seve Ballesteros, who surely did absolutely nothing for our country, got far more coverage than did Claude's. Ex naval boy's of generations later, some now in their late 70's, who had every opportunity to post comments to a FORUM on General Naval Topics, ignored the chance of lamenting another ex boy's passing, save for one posting as follows:-

SNAP SHOT OF H.M.S. GANGES FORUM TAKEN AT 0900 SUNDAY 8th May 2001. Note just the one posting and that only to alert people to an Australian press cutting. Otherwise, be gone Claude, you are long forgotten.

                                                                                                      General Naval Topics

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Claude did not serve in H.M.S. Ganges but the spirit of Jack {John} Cornwell [also a non Ganges boy] abounds, or I thought it did !

Incidentally, when it comes to Service rendered to the Crown, the joint families of our near 50 year marriage, have given no fewer than 203 years Service touching all armed forces and other services like the merchant navy, fire brigade etc. 71 of those are covered by a joint families genealogy website, and 132, who served at sea, are covered in this web page OTHER SAILORS IN THE FAMILY

Monday 9th May 2011

It is unfortunate that the RN Navy News will have missed Claude's death in their May Edition but I wonder what they will do for their June Edition?

This is what the RAN Navy News did in their April 3rd - May 5 2011 Edition.

also NEW today is this lovely picture of Claude kindly emailed to me by Sandy McNab ex R.A.N. It featured on the front page of the Western Australian Newspaper on Friday 6th May 2011 the day after Claude's death - it was taken in 2004.  It is purposely large to show off this lovely proud man,

and still on Monday 9th May 2011, yet more correspondence from my good friend Sandy McNab.  I have copied his work and I have made a PDF file as an Australian Tribute to Claude.  Unfortunately Claude, from my humble position in the pecking-order, I cannot claim to speak for the United Kingdom Establishment, by as a born and bred citizen of the UK, I at least acknowledge you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did for us in WW1 and what you did for Australia in WW2. RIP, you bloody deserve it my friend.

TRIBUTE TO CLAUDE CHOULES IN THE AUSTRALIAN MEDIA.pdf

Recently, in the UK, at Eastbourne on the south coast, in the county of East Sussex, the Royal British Legion Women's Section held their annual conference from Friday the 6th May until Monday the 9th May 2011 almost coinciding with the death of Claude. I asked the question "did you mention or salute Claude Choules" and the answer was an unequivocal NO - at any time during the proceedings.  Even here, his passing is {my words} a non event and nothing to do with us, pre-supposing that not only does his residence in Australia render him persona non grata in the UK, but that he was a mere man, and therefore not of our gender or concern.  Think hard and fast about my webpage.

Wednesday 11th May 2011

Today was the funeral of Seve BALLESTEROS which received a detailed United Kingdom TV coverage. It showed a couple of the many eulogies spoken to commemorate this great SPORTSMAN life which nobody can deny or refute.  With a great Sportsman tag comes great wealth also, but few serve their country as Servicemen do, and material rewards are insulting and miniscule by comparison.  It is perhaps [certainly in my book] a gross insult to United Kingdom Servicemen and Servicewomen {at any time notwithstanding}  when dates match dates almost, that a foreign sportsman can transcend a news story effectively shutting out a man who did Serve his country and in what must be, land or sea or air [later on] the bloodiest of all wars. It is a case of those who have and those who do not have in wealth and media terms, and in this area Servicemen cannot compete and are sidelined because of their lowly status.

Friday 13th May 2011

A Royal Australian Navy Guard of Honour and a Gun Salute for Claude Choules

From the keyboard of Sandy McNab, two press cuttings in the Australian media. Note that the Governor General [the Queens representative will be attending] plus the Australian Prime Minister.  You will recall by back reading this rather long page, that the  Queen was never on my hit-list {or should that be hate-list} for I believe she was misled into doing the closure Service in Westminster Abbey by politicians.

From today's The West Australian Friday May 13 2011

AND

 a Funeral notice from The West Australian  for Wednesday May 11 2011.

Saturday 14th May 2011

From Sandy down-under come this newspaper cuttings

Wednesday 18th May 2011

A Defence email to Sandy and Pat McNab in Western Australia.  My usual thanks for the information.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Funeral of last known WWI Active Serviceman – Mr Claude Choules 3 March 1901- 5 May 2011
Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 16:49:42 +1000
From: Defence Media Centre <mediacentreATmedia.defence.gov.au>
To: sandypatAT????????.au {DISGUISED to protect their privacy}


 

 

Funeral of last known WWI Active Serviceman – Mr Claude Choules

3 March 1901- 5 May 2011

 

What:         The last known WWI veteran who saw active service, Mr Claude Choules, will be farewelled at a Naval funeral service.

 

When:         Arrive at 9:15am for a 10:00am service on Friday 20 May 2011. Pool cameraman, radio and print journalists wishing to view the church service are required to be in place by 9:30am.

 

Where:        St John’s Church, cnr of Queen St and Adelaide St, Fremantle. Vision from inside the church of the funeral service will be pooled and made available by WA TV media. General media access is available for the Naval funeral procession that follows the service.

 

                        Who:   The church service will be attended by various Federal, State and local dignitaries.

 

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane will be available for pooled media interview on completion of the service and procession.

 

The Choules family representative is Mr Choules’ grandson, Douglas Pow who will be available for a brief pooled interview on completion of the procession.

 

Media note:    Media wishing to attend are to advise of their attendance by 5pm Thursday 19 May 2011 to Lieutenant Katey Mouritz on 0408 403 645.

 

Stills imagery inside the church will be available at www.defence.gov.au/images by 1200WST/1400EST Friday 20 May.

 

National and international media outlets are advised to contact their WA state branches to gain pooled vision and stills.

 

Media Contact:

Lieutenant Katey Mouritz - 0408 403 645.

Defence Media Operations - (02) 6127 1999 - 0408 498 664

Saturday 28th May 2011

I have just returned from a short break which unfortunately coincided with the funeral of Claude Choules on the 20th May. Nevertheless my ever faithful source of information, one Graham [Sandy] McNab, had much information waiting for me on my arrival home. Using that well known and often quoted phrase of a picture being worth a thousand words, here Sandy recommends [and I heartily endorse] the following link which more than adequately covers the funeral but before you click on the URL, note the following actions you need to take when the page opens.

1. Click on the top menu bar, second item of EXTENDED SEARCH
2. Under SEARCH CRITERIA, change THE EXACT PHRASE [by use of the arrow sign] to ANY OF THE WORDS
3. In the box to the right of 'Any of the Words' add in Claude Choules [any casing]
4.  Move your mouse pointer over to the top left of the page and there, under ACTIONS click on SEARCH

This will then show you 33 pictures. At update all URL's below [3 in number] time expired.

<http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?position=17&archiveid=5003&columns=4&rows=2&sorting=ModifiedTimeAsc&search=(IPTC007%20contains(20112810%0A))>

or, if you experience difficulties, it is also also available on this page http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003=&search=20112810

The RAN Navy News also covered the funeral in text and pictures displaying their tribute on the papers centrespread. That coverage can be found here currently but will of course be switched to their archive section very soon http://digital.realviewtechnologies.com/?xml=defencenews_navy.xml


An image of the front page of the RAN Navy News covering this story

Finally, courtesy of ABC News Perth Western Australia a funeral video clip of Claude's funeral - CLAUDE'S FUNERAL VIDEO CLIP - once on the page click on REFRESH if necessary.

Finally, listen and watch this video - lovely in the extreme !

You may already know that the Australian's purchased an ex Brit RN ship and called it HMAS CHOULES [L100] in memory of Claude and his Services to the Commonwealth manifest by his duty in serving the United Kingdom and  Australia. The following pictures are associated with this ship. The fourth [from left] picture shows the CO, the fifth, the CO and the Fleet Commander and the sixth, the hoisting of the Ensign on the Choules. We wish her well throughout her life, enhancing the professionalism and style of the Royal Australian Navy.

Here is a much better resolution picture of the Choules, and all this add-on information, courtesy of Sandy McNab - thanks Sandy.

18th December 2011 again from Sandy McNab.

This is what I call my type of Navy.  Good old Oz; brilliant and lovely all at the same time.

and with the great grandkids came the kids!