Last Tommy leaves message about Haig on

LONDON - Harry Patch, who at 110 is Britain's last surviving veteran of the First World War trenches, has left a message on on a page dedicated to General Douglas Haig.

Haig, who died on January 29 1928, was an icon of military history and a much-maligned historical figure who was blamed for some of the military disasters that cost tens of thousands of men their lives in the four years of trench warfare on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918.

As commander of the British forces at the Somme and Ypres, he eventually won out a battle of attrition and determination against Germany on the Western Front.

His plan to unify British troops into a single force and his subsequent leadership during the final push were hailed as crucial factors in the Allied victory.

But for Harry Patch, who is Britain's last veteran of the trench warfare that raged throughout the First World War, his view of Haig remains the same after all these years.

Harry Patch's message on Lasting Tribute reads: "As someone who was there, I am often asked what I thought of our commander-in-chief, as if I must have an opinion.

"All I can say is that sometimes Haig's intelligence was good, other times it was rotten. But we didn't talk about him among ourselves, in the trenches or out at rest.

"I know people think that we must have spoken about him, but I can't remember ever doing so.

"We were there to do a job and we did it. We weren't there to criticise -- we knew when they'd gone wrong."

As Remembrance Day approaches, Harry Patch has already marked his. His personal Remembrance Day is September 22. It was that day in 1917 that Harry lost three of his friends when their Lewis gun team was smashed by an explosion that left him badly injured.

In his book, 'Harry Patch, The Last Fighting Tommy', he pays tribute to the young men who died as they fought the enemy in atrocious conditions that few could ever imagine.

He wrote: "I had lost three good mates. The Lewis gun team was a little band together and the last three, the ammunition carriers, had, I understood, been blown to pieces.

"My reaction was terrible -- it was losing a part of my life. I'd taken an absolute liking to the men in the team, you could say, almost love."

In other sections of the book, Harry remembers Bob Haynes, who was the "Number 1" of his Lewis gun team.

"The team was very close-knit and it had a pact. It was this: Bob said we wouldn't kill, not if we could help it. He said, 'We fire short, have them in the legs, or fire over their heads, but not to kill, not unless it's them or us'."

Harry kept in touch with Bob from 1918 until Bob's death in the early 1970s.

The lives of fallen comrades and heroes who have died serving Queen and country are being celebrated on memorial site

As Remembrance Sunday approaches, The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Help For Hereos  charity are seeking donations to support servicemen and women injured in conflicts past and present.