Somerset

Harry Patch memorial stone is placed in Wells

A memorial celebrating the life of Harry Patch, the last British survivor of the World War I trenches, has been lowered into place by crane.

The six foot (1.8m), five-tonne stone is located outside the museum by Cathedral Green in Wells in Somerset.

Mr Patch was conscripted into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry at the age of 18 and fought in the battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

He lived in Wells and died on 25 July 2009 aged 111.

'Lost generation'

Alan Williams from Shepton Mallet, a friend of Mr Patch's, launched the memorial bid in November 2010 and has been in charge of the fundraising effort.

"We thought it would be over and done with, with a plaque on the wall, and two months later it would be completed but our aspirations grew to what we have today.

"It's a beautiful piece of Doulting stone, which will weigh almost five tonnes, it's from the Jurassic period, it's 170 million years old.

"We are then going to set a slate into the stone, which has been finished, which is ellipse in shape and has 270 letters, not just honouring Harry, but a lost generation."

Mr Williams became friends with Mr Patch after reading a book about his life and visiting him at Fletcher House, the care home where he lived.

Richard Van Emden, author of The Last Fighting Tommy, said: "I think he would have been delighted, very, very honoured, very proud.

'Very humble'

"Every time something happened where he was honoured such as Menin Gate and places like that, he couldn't believe it was happening to him.

"He was very humble too, he knew it was primarily because he was the last Great War veteran, that sole living connection which made it so important to people.

"He would see that memorial not for him, it would be for all the mates he served with, as well as for himself."

The inscription will be mounted into place on 6 May when the stone is officially unveiled.

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