Death of a Crimean Veteran

 

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It seems somehow appropriate that in this, my final blog, I should comment on an article looking back to a previous war. Given Richard Cooney’s participation at Sebastopol, it is fitting that he should live just long enough to know of another great battle – the Somme – and all the more so in that it ended on the very same day as his own death.

The significance of such individuals’ passing is obviously that with them dies the direct link to the past; from then on they are merely shadows, unable consciously to contribute any more to their story than they already have. Yet, paradoxically, we are also brought into closer contact with our collective past by such events: the cutting hints at what the present generation owes to its predecessor and, in the sense of an era passing, there is the unspoken realisation that the link will soon be gone forever.

There is, I think, a strong echo of our own time in this cutting, counting down, as we were a few years ago, the last few veterans of the First World War until, in 2012, the last of them passed away[1]. As we look back on those looking back from their own time, we may well ponder who will look back on us a hundred years from now and, as we do so, reflect on our own fate as tomorrow’s history.

Article: Death of a Crimean Veteran, Eltham & District Times, 24 November 1916, p.7

Blog Written By: James

Blog Maintained By: Megan

[1] Florence Beatrice Green (died 4 February 2012, aged 110) was the last known surviving First World War veteran of any belligerent nation. She served as an officers’ mess steward in the final months of the war in the newly-created Women’s Royal Air Force. Strangely, she was born in Edmonton (my home town), just along the road from Thomas Barnsby, subject of my July blog ‘Pioneer Man’s Experience of the Big Push’. Harry Patch (died 25 July 2009, aged 111) was the last surviving British veteran of the trenches, outliving Henry Allingham (died 18 July 2009, aged 113) by a week.

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