Last Surviving British and American WWI Vets: A Pacifist and an Activist

Saturday, November 13, 2010
Frank Buckles
The last men standing from World War I who fought for the United States and Great Britain reflect differently on their experiences. One refuses to participate in ceremonies commemorating the “Great War,” while another fights for the establishment of a national memorial honoring those who fought and died in the conflict.
The man who defended Britain, Claude Choules, has long since left the British Isles, having settled in Australia in the 1920s. Now 109 years old, Choules is a pacifist who balks at marching in war parades. In addition to serving in the Navy during WWI, he fought on the side of Australia in World War II.
His son, Adrian Choules, 75, told the Daily Telegraph, “He used to say that while he was serving in the war he was trained to hate the enemy, but later he really grew to understand that they were just young blokes who were the same as him. He said wars were planned by old men and fought by young men and that they were a stupid waste of time and energy. As he got older he became more and more anti-war.”
Unlike Choules who’d rather not revisit the past, American Frank Buckles, who is also 109 years old, is dedicated to creating a national remembrance for all U.S. soldiers who served in WWI. The former Army corporal, who helped transport the wounded, has lobbied Congress to adopt legislation naming memorials in Washington, DC, and Kansas City, Missouri, as official national monuments of the conflict.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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