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Harry Patch with Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion

A new poem from the Poet Laureate

A poem for Harry

Inside Out West has commissioned the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion to compose a new work in honour of Harry Patch, our last survivor of the World War One trenches.

Harry Patch

Born, Henry John Patch, June 17, 1898 in Combe Down, Somerset.

He was an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath when he was called up for service.

He served with the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry. 

He saw action at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

During the fighting three of his best friends were killed by an exploding shell, and he was badly wounded.

In three months more than 70,000 soldiers died at Passchendaele.

On a visit to the site of the battle in 2007, Mr Patch said, "Too many died. War isn't worth one life."

Harry Patch, from Somerset, fought for the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

He was badly wounded when he was hit by shrapnel from a German shell.

Harry Patch show's Andrew Motion his book.

Andrew Motion learns about Harry's life

For the Poet Laureate, the project was an exciting challenge. Andrew Motion has long been a student of First World War poetry.

He wanted his poem to reflect Harry’s amazing life.

His childhood which began in 19th century Somerset, the horror of losing friends on the First World War battlefields and his experiences after the war, working on the construction of the Wills Tower in Bristol.

The poem, in five acts, was unveiled at a special event at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, in front of an invited audience.

The guests were also shown a video message from HRH, The Prince of Wales in which he said:

"Harry Patch is one of the last of those remarkable men who almost unimaginably endured so much; the last survivor of the unutterable hell of the trenches.

"It has been a real privilege to have come to know him a little over the last few years.

"He epitomizes the courage, the long sufferingness and the tenacity of his generation."

last updated: 08/08/2008 at 17:26
created: 06/03/2008

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