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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

State funeral for last British WW1 veteran?


Chris_Baker

Should there be a state funeral for the last British WW1 veteran?  

163 members have voted

  1. 1. Should there be a state funeral for the last British WW1 veteran?

    • Strongly Agree
      84
    • Somewhat Agree
      18
    • I'm Neutral
      7
    • Somewhat Disagree
      18
    • Strongly Disagree
      34
    • Don't Know
      2


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as i will hopefully seeing 3 of them at the NAm on wedesday . I have met a couple. The american did it for the last american civil war soldier. The ausralian made a big thing for the last anzac.

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Chris,

There are some good ongoing discussions about this subject on:

The British Army Rumour Service Website (www.Arrse.co.uk) in the forums section under Current affairs, news and analysis - look at the sticky "The Last Tommy"

There is also another web based discussion on the Proffessional Pilots Rumour Network (www.PPrune.Org) Look under Forums, Military Aircrew, and you will see the subject.

It seems to be quite a hot subject at the moment with both serving and ex-serving forces members.

Best regards

Iain

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Alec Campbell, the last Australian Gallipoli veteran had a state funeral in Tasmania and Peter Casserly the last Australian to serve on the Western Front had a state funeral in Fremantle in June of this year.

I attended Peter's funeral and even though it was a state funeral with politicians in attendance it was still a very family orientated funeral which was pleasing.

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I think a state funeral for the last soldier would be the right and correct thing to do out of respect to all who lived through the great war. I cant see it happening though. The government will either claim its a security risk or that you can only have a state funeral for royalty. The only time politicians and the establishment want to know the masses is when were needed to fight one of their wars, or its election time. They have no interest in what Mr Joe public wants for example they will never consider righting the wrongs of the "shot at dawn soldiers" as this would suggest that the establishment were at fault. I think I have a rant coming on so Ill leave it at that.

I hope something can be done but a state funeral?

My thoughts go to all who served, sufferd and died in all conflicts . Gareth

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There was a letter regarding this in the latest WFA Bulletin - a good point was raised: what happens if the funeral is held and another still surviving previously unknown veteran is found?! As has been discussed before there seems to be a lack of a 100% reliable veterans list. Many men who served would have 'escaped' official lists.

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I agree with Giles. Who decides the "official" last man?

Too many other issues - family considerations, where would he be buried, turned into a political event, his own wishes, etc.

Would you want a state funeral if it was your grandfather/great grandfather? A definite "No" from me.

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I voted somewhat agree.

I think that some form of 'gesture' would be good, but I can see some pitfalls awaiting. As stated how do we know he was the last etc.

so alot of thought would be required befoire launching into this

regards

Arm

Ps

As a thought would not a unknown warrior ceremony etc be a more appropriate gesture?

Edited by armourersergeant
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I voted somewhat agree. I have two reservations - the first is that the vetran has to agree in advance and the second is that I would only really support it if it was a secular funeral.

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I see it a tribute to all that served and those that gave their lives in the Great War.

It is a passing of history and a chance to pay respect to him and those that have passed before him. So long as politics are kept out of it, then why not.

A salute to the last of those that lived through a tumultuous time.

Regards

Kim

May they all rest in peace

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I see it a tribute to all that served  and those that gave their lives in the Great War.

It is a passing of history and a chance to pay respect to him and those that have passed before him. So long as politics are kept out of it, then why not.

A salute to the last of those that lived through a tumultuous time.

Regards

Kim

May they all rest in peace

I agree with the above, well put.. ;) .

Mick.

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My mum was born in 1919, the daughter of a soldier who served from 1915 to 1918 ... he spent from March 21 1918 in a POW camp. He died of TB in 1930. My mum went on to live through the depression, see a second war, watch bombs fall on Belfast and raise a loving family. I'm sure she is one of a great many who experienced the same and worse/better.

I'm against this because I do not think simple longevity is a good reason for a state funeral. Having said that - not all state funerals are merited in my opinion.

But why does the 'last' get a state funeral? If my relative was the second but last one to die and 'missed out' , I can imagine I would not be too chuffed.

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Des,

if it is put forward as an honour to all that served, obviously not all that served can have a state funeral, but to mark the last man's passing as a mark of respect for all that served?

I would expect the same for the last man standing of WW2, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf War.

I see it as a way of honouring not only that man, but all of them.

Remembering, and marking, the passing of history.

Regards

Kim

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I agree with Desmond7. My grandfather survived the Great War (he was underage when he enlisted) but died in the 1960s at a relatively young age.

I too would prefer something along the lines of the unknown warrior because I feel he really does represent all those that fought.

Kate

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I share some the reservations already voiced. How can we be sure (s)he really is the last person. When any such state funeral is announced, someone's likely to come forward with another claimant, either genuinely, mistakenly or mischievously, and that will have to be investigated. (Wasn't there another of those stories earlier this year about Japanese soldiers still in hiding 60 years after WWI and didn't it turn out to be a hoax?)

The agreement of the family is crucial and I wouldn't want the politicians to highjack the occasion.

Moonraker

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I'm against this because I do not think simple longevity is a good reason for a state funeral.

and also, perhaps whoever the last survivor is may have made alternative arrangements that do not involve the Great War.

doogal

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There was a letter regarding this in the latest WFA Bulletin - a good point was raised:  what happens if the funeral is held and another still surviving previously unknown veteran is found?!  As has been discussed before there seems to be a lack of a 100% reliable veterans list.  Many men who served would have 'escaped' official lists.

I have often wondered what the definition of a WW1 veteran is (if there is one)? Does it include those who did not see action but served in the Army of Occupation; those who served in the Merchant Navy; those who were in the services but whose time was spent in in the UK; etc.?

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Whilst I fully agree with Chris' sentiment I have to vote No.

Where does it end?Presumably we would show the same reverence to the last survivor of WW2 but are the survivors of other conflicts e.g. Korea,Suez,Ireland,The Gulf,etc not entitled to the same respect when the time comes?

It is also a bit late in my mind to start with WW1.I know we cannot we cannot arrange Funerals retrospectively(I know what you all are thinking :rolleyes: ) but why were the last survivors of the Napoleonic,Crimean and Boer Wars,etc not shown the same courtesy?

Sorry to be a damp squib.

George

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i'm afraid i disagree with this one,why should this person be singled out and given a state funeral,every man that fought deserved a state funeral.

and as for it being a service for all the ones who fought,i thought thats what remembrance sunday was for.

sorry but thats what i think.

andy

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Having voted for strongly agree with my heart, my head says, on reflection, how do you decide who is the last veteran ?

His family have to agree and why can't all the remaining men have the same priveledge ?.

I think on reflection, perhaps a better idea would be for a state funeral for one of the recovered unknown tommies that the battlefields are still giving up, perhaps on the Rememberance Day after it has been established that the last of the survivors has unfortunately passed away. That would represent them all and I think the men who came through would look down on that as more fitting when they themselves are gone.

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i'm afraid i disagree with this one,why should this person be singled out and given a state funeral,every man that fought deserved a state funeral.

andy

Which is how I feel as well and why I voted strongly disagree. Though concerned with memorial rather than ceremony the CWGC's policy of equality in death has always struck me as the correct approach.

"and that, in death, all, from General to Private, of whatever race or creed, should receive equal honour under a memorial which should be the common symbol of their comradeship and of the cause for which they died." (Statement of the IWGC January 1918.)

However well meant, a state funeral would run counter to such a spirit, and would elevate one man above all others purely because he was believed to be the last.

Mike

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It should be noted that in the UK State Funerals are reserved for Monarchs, the exception was Churchill in 1965, anything else is a cermonial funeral.

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