View Full Version : WW1 VET DIES

11-21-2005, 03:52 PM
Times Online November 21, 2005

Christmas Truce veteran dies aged 109
By Philippe Naughton

The last veteran to have personally heard the guns of the Western Front fall silent during the Christmas Truce of 1914 has died at the age of 109.

Alfred Anderson was 18 when British and German soldiers crossed no-man's land on the first Christmas Day of the war to exchange handshakes and cigarettes and play an impromptu game of football with bully-beef cans, using their own steel helmets for goalpoasts.

When the First World War broke out in October 1914, Mr Anderson's unit, the 5th Battalion of the Black Watch, had been among the first to be deployed to France, promised a quick campaign to give the Kaiser a bloody nose.

As December 25 arrived he was billeted in a dilapidated farmhouse behind the trenches and never joined in the famous game of football. But only last year, the old soldier recalled: "All Iíd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machine-gun fire and distant German voices.

"But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ĎMerry Christmas', even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war."

Mr Anderson was born in Dundee on June 25, 1896 and and grew up in Newtyle, Angus, where he signed up for the Territorial Army as a teenager. He was invalided out in 1916 by a shell explosion which killed several of his comrades and left him with serious shrapnel wounds.

After his return from the front he met and fell in love with Susan Iddison, a nanny from Ripon, North Yorkshire, while stationed with his regiment at nearby Catterick. They were married in June 1917 and moved to Scotland where Mr Anderson took over his fatherís building and joinery business in Newtyle. They brought up a family of six children and celebrated a diamond wedding anniversary before Mrs Anderson died of a stroke, aged 83, in 1979.

Apart from ten telegrams from the Queen, Mr Anderson also received a visit from the Prince of Wales two years ago after it emerged that he had served as a batman to Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the late Queen Mother's brother, who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

Mr Anderson was the last veteran from any nation to have served in 1914 and his death means that fewer than ten British veterans of the Great War remain alive, of whom only three or four experienced life on the Western Front.

Mr Anderson was already too old for active service in the Second World War but helped to set up the home guard units. Fiercely proud of his army service, his Black Watch cap with the famous red hackle always hung over the door of the family home in Alyth, Perthshire.

He lived there until September this year when failing health saw him become a resident at Mundamalla Nursing Home back in Newtyle, where he died this morning at 3am. Mr Anderson is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

A special bust of the soldier is on display at the public library in Alyth and a biography - A Life In Three Centuries - was published in 2002.

He always put his good health down to being a non-smoker and drinking in moderation. But throughout his long life, the events of the Great War - especially at Christmas time - remained deeply etched on his mind.

He once said: "I think about all my friends who never made it home. But itís too sad to think too much about it. Far too sad."

Lieutenant Colonel Roddy Riddell, regimental secretary of the Black Watch, said the death of Mr Anderson, whose funeral is expected to take place on Friday, was the "end of an epoch".

Speaking from the regimentís headquarters at Balhousie Castle in Perth, he said: "For a man to have been plunged into the unimaginable hell of the First World War and not only to survive, but to lead a full and active life afterwards, shows what a truly remarkable man Alfred Anderson was.

"It really is the end of the epoch. The entire regiment is in mourning and we are all the sadder for his passing."

11-21-2005, 03:59 PM
109, my God! 3 centuries, my God too. What year was it when he was your age? Thats a question for everybody, for me it was 1936. Kind of puts it in perspective that.

11-21-2005, 04:05 PM
He was my age in 1920.

Rest in peace old fella - you did your duty, now you're at rest.

11-21-2005, 06:55 PM

Iron Yeoman
11-22-2005, 04:01 AM
It was 1917 when he was my age. RIP fella.

PzKpfw VI Tiger
11-22-2005, 06:32 AM
Just say along time ago. Rest in Peace.

And the world is a little poorer for a soldier died today.

11-22-2005, 10:09 AM
He was my age in 1911 :oops:

Lol 109 years old :shock:


Hanz Lutz
11-22-2005, 12:37 PM
He was in my age 1914 .

Rip old soldier.

11-22-2005, 07:42 PM
He was serving with the Home Guard when he was the same age as I am now - 47.
I hope that he is now with his friends & comrades with whom he shared his life.
My thanks to him & all those others who served in order that we might remain free & others might find the same freedom.

11-22-2005, 11:19 PM
It was 1932 when he was my age!

FW-190 Pilot
11-23-2005, 12:26 AM

11-23-2005, 03:29 PM
He was my age in 1917 :lol:

11-26-2005, 10:53 AM
screw you guys, I'm 20 years old.

11-26-2005, 12:21 PM
screw you guys, I'm 20 years old.

Then for you it was 1916 then.

12-08-2006, 01:59 PM
god rest hes soul and rip with a 21 gun slute i was not even thought of then

12-09-2006, 08:05 AM
I salute you friend.

08-16-2007, 11:10 AM
"God Bless you all, and Have a Merry Christmas". Quote from German soldier to the Tommies when they parted that night. May they all meet in a better place.