The last surviving man who served in World War One, Claude Choules, died on Thursday at the age of 110. Choules had an incredibly interesting history. He had attempted to join the British Army when the war broke out in 1914. However, since he was only 14, the British government sent Choules to a boys training ship.


Claude Choules with his 21 year old fiancee, Ethel in 1926

When he was 17, having completed the training, he successfully enlisted in the British Navy as a boy seaman first class and served on the battleship Revenge. A year later, while then serving on the battleship Valiant, he witnessed the surrender of the German Navy on the Firth of Forth. He later served on the British first aircraft carrier, the Eagle.

Once the First World War ended, Choules joined his siblings and immigrated to Australia. He then joined the Australian Navy in 1925, and, with his established expertise as a torpedoman, was trained to work on cruisers for that nation. He continued to spend much of his time between the wars involved with the Australian Navy. When the Second World War broke out, he was selected to be the chief demolition officer for that nation. In 1942, when the nation feared that the Japanese would invade, he was selected to prepare demolition plans for western Australian harbors. When the Japanese destroyed 15 airplanes that were being used to evacuate Dutch refugees, he was chosen to move the aircraft away from harbors and blow them up in deeper waters so that shipping could continue.

He eventually retired at the age of 56. His wife became frail in the 1990’s, but Choules continued to care for her; they both moved into a hostel where she passed away at the age of 98. They were married for 74 years. In 2009, he wrote his autobiography, the Last of the Last.