Friday, September 05, 2008

Last female WW I Veteran dies at age 109

Source AAP.

A 109-year-old believed to be the last surviving female veteran of World War I has died, Britain's Ministry of Defence reports.

Gladys Powers, who lied about her age to join the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps when she was 15, died in British Columbia, Canada, on August 14, although the ministry only announced her death on Friday.

Born in Lewisham in London, she emigrated to Canada at the end of the war after marrying a Canadian soldier.

Most of the service records of the women who served in World War I were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, making it impossible to formally confirm her time in the military.

Paying tribute to Powers, Britain's Veterans Minister Derek Twigg said: "I am saddened to learn of the death of Gladys Powers who may have been the world's last surviving female service veteran from the First World War.

"Over 80,000 women served in our armed forces during that war.

"Although they may not have realised it at the time, these early women volunteers did much to break down the barriers for all those servicewomen who have come after them and who continue to serve their country today so proficiently and professionally."

Powers' death brings the total number of British remaining World War I veterans to three.

They are Henry Allingham, believed to be Britain's oldest man at 110, Harry Patch, also aged 110, and former Naval Seaman William Stone, who is 107.

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