John Babcock, Canada’s last living link to the Great War, has died at the age of 109. Only a 15-year-old when he went in search of military glory, Babcock was the last of the 650,000 men and women Canada recruited to serve in the “war to end all wars.”
John Babcock in a 1920 photo. Babcock, Canada’s oldest and last surviving
Great War veteran, died Thursday at age 109.
Babcock first attempted to join the army in 1915, but was turned down because of his age and sent to work in Halifax until he was placed in the Young Soldiers Battalion in August 1917. Babcock was then transferred to Britain, where he continued his training until the end of the war.
Having never seen combat, Babcock never considered himself a veteran and moved to the United States in the 1920s, where he joined the United States Army and eventually became an electrician. In May 2007, following the death of Dwight Wilson, he became the last surviving veteran of the First World War who served with the Canadian forces. From that point he received international attention, including 109th birthday greetings from the Queen of Canada, the Governor General of Canada and the Canadian Prime Minister until his death on February 18, 2010.
He was since the death of Harry Patch (who was the last surviving veteran to see action on the Western Front), the conflict's oldest surviving participant. There are now only three surviving veterans left: Claude Choules and Florence Green from Great Britain, and Frank Buckles from the United States.