, WELLS, England Aug 6 – Thousands of people were expected to pay their respects Thursday at the funeral of Harry Patch, the last soldier to fight in the trenches of Europe in World War I, who died at the age of 111.
Patch will be honoured at a memorial service in Wells Cathedral, in Somerset, southwest England, following the overwhelming public response to his death on July 25.
Just over 1,000 people will attend the service and thousands more are expected to watch on giant television screens, according to organisers.
The family said the service would have the theme of peace and reconciliation, in keeping with Patch’s own belief in the futility of war.
Patch fought at the notorious Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 — where an estimated half a million troops perished.
Nicknamed "The Last Tommy" by Britain’s media, Patch was also briefly Britain’s oldest man following the death a week before his own of Henry Allingham at the age 113, who at the time was the oldest man in the world.