Thursday, May 05, 2011
Claude Choules (3 March 1901 – 5 May 2011)
The last surviving veteran of the First World War; Claude Choules passed away this day. With his passing, human memory of that horrendous conflict becomes second-hand history, and the great slaughter-battles of the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres become as faded and abstract as any conflict of the Thirty Years War or Third Crusade. All those people and all those lives. They passed into memory so fast, its almost like they were a dream.
Odd as it may feel at 41 years, I am now the oldest member of my immediate family. All my grandparents and their generation have passed away leaving only hazy recollections as to who fought where and when. My grandfather Sydney George Cooke fought in the Second World War, in the Royal Artillery, and I'm pretty certain his father served in the First World War, but it was all so long ago and even the story's have faded away. I like to look at old photographs of the 1920's and 1930's, especially when I'm researching for Rocketman games and I often feel as if time is an illusion. How can so much have changed so much, but in so short a time? The Second World War was only over 25 years or so when I was born, and yet even my father, born in 1944, did not remember it.