Australia — Funeral of last known WWI active serviceman

Mr Claude Choules 3 Mar 1901–5 May 2011
Today the last known WWI vet­er­an who saw active ser­vice was farewelled by his fam­i­ly, the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy and the West Aus­tralian com­mu­ni­ty at a pub­lic ser­vice in Fre­man­tle.

The Naval funer­al hon­oured the life and ser­vice of Chief Pet­ty Offi­cer Claude Choules with time hon­oured tra­di­tions such as the gun­fire salute and a naval uni­formed pro­ces­sion, whilst also pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for the Choules fam­i­ly to cel­e­brate the char­ac­ter­is­tics that made Claude Choules a fam­i­ly man.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admi­ral Russ Crane, said that the funer­al ser­vice gave the chance to remem­ber and cel­e­brate the life and ser­vice of for­mer Chief Pet­ty Offi­cer Claude Choules. “By gath­er­ing here to remem­ber, we are also gath­er­ing to mark the pass­ing of the Great War into his­to­ry as the last links break between those who were there and we who remem­ber them,” he said.

Mr Choules was a mem­ber of the Roy­al Navy 1916–1926 and trans­ferred to the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy and served through WWII until retir­ing in 1956.

Claude’s career in the Roy­al Navy and Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy spanned some of the most sig­nif­i­cant events in mar­itime his­to­ry of the 20th cen­tu­ry, there­fore his pass­ing sig­nals the end of an era.

“As the last known com­bat vet­er­an of the ‘war to end all wars,’ Claude’s was among our last liv­ing mem­o­ries of those momen­tous days when the Ger­man High Seas Fleet sur­ren­dered in 1918 and lat­er was scut­tled at Scapa Flow,” Vice Admi­ral Russ Crane said. 

Mr Claude Choules was cre­mat­ed at a pri­vate fam­i­ly cer­e­mo­ny on con­clu­sion of the pub­lic church service. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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