UK — Last known Service person from WWI dies

The world’s last known sur­viv­ing Ser­vice per­son from the First World War has died aged 110.

Flo­rence Green dur­ing her ser­vice with the Women’s Roy­al Air Force in 1918 [Pic­ture: via MOD]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK 

Flo­rence Green, who served as a mess stew­ard at RAF bases in Marham and Nar­bor­ough, died in her sleep on Sat­ur­day 4 Feb­ru­ary 2012. 

Mrs Green, who was a mem­ber of the Women’s Roy­al Air Force (WRAF), was thought to be the last sur­viv­ing Ser­vice per­son from the time of the First World War. The world’s last known com­bat vet­er­an of the war, Briton Claude Choules, died in Aus­tralia aged 110 on 5 May 2011. 

The last three First World War vet­er­ans liv­ing in the UK — Bill Stone, Hen­ry Alling­ham and Har­ry Patch — all died in 2009. 

Mrs Green’s hus­band Wal­ter, an army vet­er­an who served in both world wars, died aged 82 in 1975. 

Born in Lon­don before mov­ing to Nor­folk, Mrs Green was 17 years old when she joined the WRAF on 13 Sep­tem­ber 1918 — two months before the armistice. 

Mrs Green worked as a wait­ress at RAF bases in Nor­folk and left the Ser­vice on 18 July 1919. 

She then moved to work in a hotel in King’s Lynn and in her spare time she was heav­i­ly involved with the Roy­al British Legion. 

Mrs Green’s youngest daugh­ter, June Evetts, said: 

“I nev­er heard any­one say a bad word about her. She would nev­er blow her own trum­pet and cer­tain­ly would­n’t shout about the fact she was the last vet­er­an. She was very proud of what she did and we are all very proud of her. Her death does close the book on the First World War as there are no vet­er­ans left now.” 

Speak­ing in 2010, Mrs Green said she had served break­fast, lunch and tea in the WRAF and had got to know many dif­fer­ent peo­ple dur­ing her service. 

Women in the WRAF had to under­take a vari­ety of jobs and were used as dri­vers, mechan­ics, cooks and office clerks. At first they were based in Britain, but lat­er about 500 women served in France and Germany. 

The WRAF was dis­band­ed on 1 April 1920. 

Group Cap­tain David Coop­er, Sta­tion Com­man­der at RAF Marham, said in a state­ment he was very sad to hear that Mrs Green had died and added that mem­bers of the Roy­al Air Force would be at her funeral. 

On Mrs Green’s 109th birth­day, Wing Com­man­der Adri­an Burns and mess stew­ard Han­nah Shaw, from RAF Marham, vis­it­ed her to present her with a birth­day cake. 

Andrew Robathan, Min­is­ter for Defence Per­son­nel, Wel­fare and Vet­er­ans, said: 

“I am very sor­ry to learn of the death of Flo­rence Green, the last known sur­viv­ing vet­er­an of World War One. 

“As we approach the cen­te­nary of the start of World War One, Florence’s pass­ing helps to high­light the many Ser­vice per­son­nel, includ­ing some 80,000 women, who served in sup­port roles dur­ing that conflict. 

“When we think of the First World War, pub­lic focus nat­u­ral­ly falls on those in the trench­es, afloat in war­ships or in aer­i­al sor­ties over the front lines. But none of those activ­i­ties would have been pos­si­ble with­out the work of the sup­ply, logis­tic and sup­port per­son­nel often locat­ed far away from the bat­tle­fields. They con­tributed great­ly to the Allied victory. 

“I am sure that nei­ther Flo­rence nor her col­leagues ever imag­ined that she would be the last sur­vivor of that ter­ri­ble war. 

“Her sad pass­ing is a major mile­stone in the his­to­ry of this nation and of the world. Indeed, it is the end of an era. I send my con­do­lences to her fam­i­ly and friends.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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