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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

florence green dies

florence green dies

florence green dies Last known WWI veteran dies, Florence Green, the last known surviving veteran of World War I , has passed away at the age of 110. Green worked as a mess steward at bases in Narborough and Marham in eastern England. She was officially recognized as a veteran in 2010, after a researcher found her service record.

A woman thought to be the world's last known surviving service member of World War I has died aged 110.

Florence Green, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, served as a mess steward at RAF bases in Marham and Narborough.

She died in her sleep on Saturday night at Briar House care home, King's Lynn. Mrs Green had been due to celebrate her 111th birthday on 19 February.

The world's last known combat veteran of World War I, Briton Claude Choules, died in Australia aged 110 in May 2011.

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

'Wonderful mother'
Mrs Green leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Her husband Walter - an army veteran who served in both world wars and a porter at King's Lynn station - died aged 82 in about 1975, one of her daughters said.

The 110-year-old had been at the care home since the end of November. She previously lived in King's Lynn with her daughter May, aged 90.

Mrs Green's other daughter June Evetts, 76, lives in Oundle, Northamptonshire, and her son Bob, 85, lives in Edinburgh.

Born in London before moving to Norfolk, Mrs Green was 17 years old when she joined the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) on 13 September 1918 - two months before the armistice.
Florence Green never saw the front line. Her war was spent serving food, not dodging bullets.

But Green, who has died at age 110, was the last known surviving veteran of World War I. She was serving with the Women's Royal Air Force as a waitress at an air base in eastern England when the guns fell silent on Nov. 11, 1918.

It was not until 2010 that she was officially recognized as a veteran after a researcher found her service record in Britain's National Archives.

Green died Saturday at the Briar House Care Home in King's Lynn, eastern England, two weeks before her 111th birthday, the home said.

Retired Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, director-general of the RAF Museum, said it was fitting that the last survivor of the first global war was someone who had served on the home front.

"In a way, that the last veteran should be a lady and someone who served on the home front is something that reminds me that warfare is not confined to the trenches," Dye said.

"It reminds us of the Great War, and all warfare since then has been something that involved everyone. It's a collective experience ... Sadly, whether you are in New York, in London, or in Kandahar, warfare touches all of our lives."

She was born Florence Beatrice Patterson in London on Feb. 19, 1901, and joined the newly formed Women's Royal Air Force in September 1918 at the age of 17.

The service trained women to work as mechanics, drivers and in other jobs to free men for front-line duty. Green went to work as a steward in the officers' mess, first at the Narborough airdrome and then at RAF Marham in eastern England, and was serving there when the war ended.

Decades later, Green remembered her wartime service with affection.

"I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates," she said in an interview in 2008. "I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying. I would work every hour God sent. But I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways, I had the time of my life."

After the war she stayed in the area, raising three children with her husband Walter Green.

Once her service record was rediscovered, the RAF embraced the centenarian veteran, marking her 110th birthday in February 2011 with a cake.

Asked what it was like to be 110, Green said "It's not much different to being 109."

She praised the officers she had served during the war as perfect gentlemen.

"It was very pleasant and they were lovely," she said. "Not a bit of bother. They kept us on our toes and there was no slacking."

A delegation from the air base had been due to visit Green on Feb. 19 to celebrate her 111th birthday.

"When we heard the news there was a palpable silence, because we all hoped she would make it," said Squadron Leader Paula Willmot.

RAF Marham's station commander, Group Captain David Cooper, said Green "will be sorely missed and our thoughts are now with her friends and family."

World War I -- "the war to end all wars" -- killed about 20 million people in four years of fighting between the Allied powers -- including Britain, France and the United States -- and Germany and its allies.

The last known soldier to have fought in the brutal trench warfare that has become the enduring image of the conflict was Britain's Harry Patch, who died in 2009 aged 111.

The last American veteran of the conflict was Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia, who drove ambulances in France for the U.S. Army. He died in February 2011.

The war's last known combatant, Royal Navy veteran Claude Choules, died in Australia in May.

There are no known French or German veterans of the war left alive.

After Choules' death, Green became the war's last known surviving service member, according to the Order of the First World War, a U.S.-based group that tracks veterans.

Andrew Holmes of the Gerontology Research Group, the researcher who found Green's service record, also said she was the last known survivor of the conflict -- and the sixth oldest person in Britain.

Green's husband died in 1970. She is survived by two daughters, a son and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The date of her funeral was not immediately known, but Willmot said air force personnel would attend, and the RAF Association would provide a bugler and a Union Jack to drape on the coffin
Almost a century later, Florence has died at the age of 110 to end a proud era of extraordinary heroes.

She had been the world’s last surviving veteran of the First World War.

Florence, who was Britain’s sixth oldest person, was 17 when she joined the newly-formed WRAF in September 1918 in the final months of the conflict.

She loved talking about her days in the services and said recently: “I enjoyed my time in the WRAF. There were plenty of people at the airfields where I worked and they were all very good company.

“I would work every hour God sent but I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways I had the time of my life.

“I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates. I had the opportunity to go up in a plane but I was scared of flying.”

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