Thursday, 6 August 2009

Harry Patch (In Memory Of)

Today's the day of Harry Patch's funeral. In case you're wondering who Harry Patch was, until his death a couple of weeks ago he was (briefly) Europe's oldest man, at 111, but more significantly he was the last surviving British veteran of World War I.

Harry served in the trenches for four months in 1917 and fought in the battle of Passchendaele, an awful engagement that lasted four months and left more than 800,000 Allied and German troops dead or wounded.

Back in 2005, Harry was interviewed by Radio 4 about his life. He spoke about the "disastrous battle" of Passchendaele, before going on to speak of the waste and futility of war. He added:
"If two government's cannot agree, give them a rifle each and let them fight it out. Don't waste 20,000 men. It isn't worth it."
These words, and others from that interview, have inspired the inestimable Radiohead to record and release a song entitled "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)". Not only is it a quietly moving, haunting track, it's for a good cause too - all profits go to the Royal British Legion.

You can buy the song here - it only costs £1, so you have no excuse not to. And rest in peace, Mr Patch.