Royal Navy's oldest former member is now a pacifist

By staff writers
November 12, 2010

The oldest former member of the UK's navy has been described as a “pacifist” by his family.

Claude Choules, 109, fought in the navy towards the end of the First World War in 1918. But he refused to participate in Armistice Day events this week. He has declined to join parades since leaving the navy in 1956.

Choules' son, Adrian Choules, 75, told the Daily Telegraph that his father “became more and more anti-war” as he got older.

"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,” explained Adrian, “He said wars were planned by old men and fought by young men and that they were a stupid waste of time and energy”.

Choules, who was born in Worcestershire, now lives in Australia. He is the only person left alive in the world who is known to have fought in both world wars.

While he did not enter a nursing home until he was 105, Choules' health is now thought to be extremely frail. He has lost his sight and his hearing and has difficulty walking. He has 23 great-grandchildren.

Choules' children told the Daily Telegraph that when their father dies, they want him to be remembered as a “loving, sensitive” family man and a pacifist. His family have said that they will also not be joining in events to mark Armistice Day.

Choules became the only known surviving British combatant of the First World War after the death of Harry Patch last year.

Patch, who died aged 113, was the last known British survivor of the trenches. Towards the end of his life, he insisted that the war “wasn't worth it” and dismissed Remembrance Day as “showbusiness”. When Patch was introduced to former Prime Minister Tony Blair at a remembrance event, he criticised the war in Iraq.


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