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Pacifist WWI veteran dies

The last survivor of more than 70 million military personnel who served in the First World War died in Australia on 5 May, aged 110.

Claude Choules served in the British navy in the First World War, and then in the Australian navy in the Second World War.

Like Harry Patch, the last First World War veteran living in Britain, who died in 2009, Choules became a pacifist, refusing to celebrate Australia’s war memorial Anzac Day, or to join in commemoration marches.

Choules’s son Adrian told the Telegraph in 2010: “He used to say that while he was serving in the war he was trained to hate the enemy, but later he really grew to understand that they were just young blokes who were the same as him.

“He said wars were planned by old men and fought by young men and that they were a stupid waste of time and energy. As he got older he became more and more anti-war.” Claude Choules’s strongly anti-war views were almost completely ignored in the mainstream media reporting of his death.

Milan Rai is a PN co-editor