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The last World War I veteran Claude Choules Claude Choules, who fought in both World War I and World War II, died last week at age 110. (Rex Features /

World War I's Last Soldier

The last known veteran to fight in WWI dies at age 110

By Zach Jones | null null , null
<p>At age 15, Claude Choules lied about his age so he could join the military sooner and help fight in the war. (NewsCom)</p>

At age 15, Claude Choules lied about his age so he could join the military sooner and help fight in the war. (NewsCom)

The last known veteran of World War I died last week. Claude Choules was 110 years old. Known to his fellow sailors as Chuckles, Choules enlisted in the British military in 1916 at age 15. He became a member of the Royal Navy as the world’s first major modern war raged in Europe.

World War I (1914 to 1918) was the first war in which all sides used modern weapons like rapid-fire guns and deadly chemical gases, as well as vehicles designed for death, like fighter planes, armed submarines, and heavy tanks. Fought mostly in Europe, it shocked the world with its savagery.

Most of the world’s great powers at the time were involved in the conflict. The United States joined France and Russia to fight against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey. (Click on the map at left to see how the war changed the map of Europe.)

Choules was serving on the battleship HMS Revenge when German forces surrendered in November 1918.

“I was onboard Revenge, preparing for torpedo training,” Choules remembered in a recent interview. “We had the torpedo in the tube all ready to fire, and the ship was on the firing course, and suddenly the captain’s cease-fire gong rang.”

After World War I, Choules was stationed in Australia, where he lived for the rest of his life. He served in the military until the 1950s, acting as a torpedo officer in Australia’s Royal Navy during World War II (1939 to 1945).

But after fighting in two wars, Choules became a pacifist, or someone who believes that war is morally wrong. He said that he believed wars like those he fought in were useless and destructive.

“His death marks a significant chapter in world history,” said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. “Mr. Choules and his generation made a sacrifice for our freedom and liberty that we will never forget.”

When his naval career ended, Choules stayed at sea as a crayfish fisherman. He didn’t own a car until he was 50 years old. He preferred to get around town by riding his bike instead.

“I’ve had the luckiest life in the world, I reckon,” Choules once said when asked about his experiences. “If I had my time over again, I’d do exactly what I did do.”

Choules died on Thursday, May 5. This past Saturday was the anniversary of the German attack on the Lusitania in 1915. The Lusitania was a British steamship that was carrying nearly 2,000 passengers, including 123 Americans. Its sinking by a German submarine was one of the major events that pushed America into World War I.

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