Above: Canadian soldiers following tank at Vimy Ridge.
There are now just two North American veterans of “The Great War” or World War I left alive. Both live in the United States, but one is a veteran of the Canadian Army and the other the United States Army. There are 14 surviving veterans worldwide from The Great War.
Jack Babcock, age 107, is the last survivor of 619,636 men who served in Canada’s military during World War I. He enlisted in the Canadian Army at age 15 in 1914. Like many others he lied about his age in order to serve. The military found out about his real age and held him in reserve in England until he was old enough for battle. The war ended though before that could happen. Jack returned to Canada after the war, but within two years moved to the United States where he still lives. Canada’s Veteran Affairs Department only found out about him a few years ago when his wife made inquiries about veteran’s benefits that might help her care for him.
Frank Buckles, also age 107, is the last living U.S. soldier who served in World War I. Frank lives in Charles Town, West Virginia and remains in good health. Mr. Buckles also lied about his age and joined in 1917, shortly after he turned 16. Frank saw combat in France and Germany. Later in the Second World War he became a POW for 39 months after Japan invaded the Phillippines.
Remarkable men both of these survivors, but no more remarkable than any of those who answered the call and served their countries in this terrible “war to end all wars”. As their countries last surviving veterans they have become symbols for all ofthose who served. When they pass into the ages, Canada and the United States will hold services to honor and remember all.
One of the others who served was my grandfather, Cuthbert “Bert” Sendell from Toronto, Ontario. Bert enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1915 and served in France driving munition trucks up to the frontlines many times under enemy fire. He returned home to Toronto in 1919. Bert died in 1983. He left behind children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.