World’s Last Remaining WWI Veteran Passes Away

Claude Choules, last WWI vet; Image: Department of Australian Defence, ReutersThe last remaining veteran from WWI has died. Claude Choules was 110 years old.

A “veteran” is someone who has fought in a war. World War I, known as WWI, began in the summer of 1914 and ended in November 1918. About 70 million people fought in the war, and more than seven million of them were killed. This included more than half a million Canadians who fought in the war and 60,000 who were killed.

Choules pretended to be older than he was when he signed up for the war at age 13. He tried to become a boy bugler, but was sent instead to a boys’ training ship. He served in the British Navy on the battleship HMS Revenge. From his ship, he watched as the Germans surrendered on Nov. 21, 1918.

Choules also fought in World War II, in the Royal Australian Navy, in the country he had moved to after the first World War.

Choules’s mother left him, when he was five years old, to become an actress. He told everyone she had died. When he became an adult, he vowed to build a loving family of his own.

He met his wife, Ethel, on the boat when he moved from England to Australia in 1925. By that time he was an expert torpedoman. He decided to move to Australia because the Royal Australian Navy needed volunteers. On the boat ride he fell in love with Ethel, who was a children’s nurse on the ship. They later married and raised three children.

When he retired from the military in 1956 in Australia, he built himself a 20-foot wooden boat and became a crayfisherman. He did that for 10 years, selling crayfish to the many restaurants around Freemantle, Australia.

Choules (March 3, 1901- May 5, 2011) published his autobiography, The Last of the Last, when he was 108 years old. He died in his sleep at a nursing home in Australia.

With Choules’s passing, there is no one alive today who was in the “Great War.” However, he and many other veterans left a legacy of historical documents and information so we can understand what WWI was like.


Writing/Discussion Prompt
Why do you think Choules lied about his age?  Why would he want to take part in the war?

Reading Prompt
In this text, there are several words that may be unfamiliar.  Some words that you may not know might include: bugler, vetran, navy, torpedoman, crayfish, autobiography and legacy.
What tools and stratgies did you use to read these words and to find out their meanings?  Which strategy was the most helpful?

Primary, Junior and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: semantic (meaning), syntactic (language structures) and graphophonic (phonological and graphic) (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Grammar Feature: Plural Possessive
To show that a noun (person, place or thing) owns something, we often add ‘s to the end of a word.  For example: The boy’s ice cream cone was melting. However, if a word already ends with an s, we often add an apostrophe after the s.  An example from the article is: “He tried to become a boy bugler, but was sent instead to a boys’ training ship.”
There is an example of a plural possessive in this article that does not follow the above rules in the article.  Can you find it?