Sorry! We have moved! The new URL is:

You will be redirected to the new address in five seconds.

If you see this message for more than 5 seconds, please click on the link above!

Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canada's last known WWI veteran dies at 109 News Staff

John Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran, has died at 109, the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday night.
Born on a farm in Ontario on July 23, 1900, Babcock signed up for the military as a teenage volunteer, but ended up
 digging ditches in Canada while pining for the battlefield.

Frustrated, the young Babcock later lied to military staff while volunteering in Halifax and told them he was 18, when in fact he was two years younger.
"When they asked me how old I was, I said 18. Well, when we got to England you had to be 19 to go to France," recalled Babcock in an interview with The Canadian Press in 2007.

"I was waiting to be 19 and my service record came through, and they found out I was 16, so they put me in the young soldiers' battalion."
Babcock was one of 1,300 other soldiers who were underage, and he endured hours of drill training as he waited for his chance to prove himself in battle.

By the time the war ended in 1918, however, Babcock had yet to serve.
He may have been disappointed at the time, but eight decades later, hindsight had given Babcock a different perspective.
"I might have got killed," he said. "If the war had lasted another year I would have fought."

Out of the approximately 600,000 Canadians who served in the war, about 10 per cent died. Another 170,000 returned home wounded.
Over four years of battle, roughly 15 million people died.
Celebrated in Canada, Babcock never sought the spotlight, and he spent his final years living in Spokane, Washington.

In fact, he often seemed uneasy about his status as Canada's oldest veteran.
"I really didn't accomplish very much," Babcock said. "I went there and I did what the people above told me to do."

When asked before his death about rumours that he would be given a state funeral, Babcock downplayed his position in Canada's military history.
"I think it should be for the fellows who spent time in the front lines and were actually in the fighting."
Nevertheless, Korean War veteran Duncan Graham said that Babcok represented a generation of Canadians who inspired the soldiers who followed them into battle.

"I've got great respect for them. The war they fought was completely different from the war I fought, where we had the luxury of tanks and armoured vehicles," he said.

"What they went through during the war in the trenches... we didn't have to see what they had to see."
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Babcock's death marked the end of an era.
"As a nation, we honour his service and mourn his passing," Harper said in a statement.
"His family mourns the passing of a great man. Canada mourns the passing of the generation that asserted our independence on the world stage and established our international reputation as an unwavering champion of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."
Gov. Gen Michaelle Jean said that Babcock represented the spirit of Canada's military.

"You know how dear the members of the Canadian Forces and our veterans are to my heart. And while I am deeply moved and saddened, I am also very honoured to be the Commander-in-Chief and Governor General to pay final tribute to Mr. Babcock."

"On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and many friends who mourn his passing. May his accomplishments and his example inspire many future generations to serve their nation."


Post a Comment



Blog Archive

Total Pageviews