Florence Green Dead: Last World War One Veteran Dies Aged 110

First Posted: 07/02/2012 12:29 Updated: 09/02/2012 13:43

The world's last surviving First World War veteran has died - marking the end of an era in British history.

Florence Green passed away in her sleep at a care home in Norfolk just two weeks before her 111th birthday.

The great-grandmother signed up to the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) 93 years ago in September 1918, when she was aged just 17.

She was the last surviving person to have seen active service in WWI following the death of British-born sailor Claude Choules in Australia last year.

During the First World War she worked at Narborough Airfield and RAF Marham, Norfolk, as an Officer's Mess steward.

Mrs Green, who was born in London, lived with her daughter May, 90, in King's Lynn, Norfolk, but had moved into Briar House care home shortly before Christmas where she died on Saturday.

Her proud family paid tribute to the veteran, describing her as "a great woman".

May said: "She so nearly made it to her 111th birthday. It is very sad. We are grateful for all the nice tributes."

Mrs Green's younger daughter June Evetts, from Oundle, Northants., 76, said: "I'm very proud of her and she was very proud of the recognition she received."

Florence spent her war days working ''all hours'' serving officers breakfast, lunch and dinner and would often spend time wandering the base simply ''admiring the pilots''.

Before her death she said: ''I enjoyed my time in the WRAF. There were plenty of people at the airfields where I worked and they were all very good company.

''I would work every hour God sent but I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways I had the time of my life.

''I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates. I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying.

''It was a lovely experience and I'm very proud.''

Her story came to light after Andrew Holmes, a British correspondent for the US-based Gerontology Research Group, traced her name using the National Archive.


She was the last surviving person to have seen active service in WWI

Mr Holmes tracks and validates the ages of people over 110 and also keeps track of British men and women who are older than 107.

He was stunned to locate a service record on the National Archive for Florence Beatrice Patterson, the tragic grandmother's maiden name.

Mr Holmes traced the records further and was surprised to find Florence had joined the WRAF in September 1918 - two months before the war ended on November 11, 1918.

He said: ''It's a common misconception that a veteran must be someone who saw action or fighting in the trenches.

''A veteran is someone who served in one of the Armed forces, regardless of their role - a medic, an ambulance driver or a waitress - they all count.

''Obviously the last surviving veterans of any war are likely to be the youngest and therefore would not have served long.''

Last May the only living male First World War combat veteran, British-born sailor Claude Choules, died in Australia at the age of 110.

Britain's last survivor of the First World War trenches Harry Patch - known as 'The Last Tommy' - who died in July 2009 aged 111.

RAF Squadron Leader Paula Willmot said RAF Marham, where Florence was stationed for seven months, would pay its respects to the veteran "in true style".

She said: "We will be supporting the family at the funeral. We are sending a number of our stewards as a tribute to her.

"We kept in contact with her and visited her just before Christmas to give her a Christmas cake, which she was delighted with.

"We were due to visit her on Friday to celebrate her 111th birthday. It is a very sad occasion, but what an amazing woman.

"She is very much a Norfolk lass. We have very good memories of her. RAF Marham will be paying its respects in true style."

Florence celebrated her 110th birthday on February 19, last year with her daughter May, who was her full-time carer.

She is also survived by her son Bob, 86, who lives in Edinburgh, and four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

She was married to husband Walter, a railway porter in 1920, for 50 years until his death in 1970.

Andrew Holmes, UK correspondent for the Gerontology Research Group, today confirmed Florence was the only remaining WW1
veteran in the world.

He said: "I am saddened by her death. Florence was the sixth oldest person in the UK and the only remaining WW1 veteran in the world."

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Filed by Sara C Nelson  |