Great Western Railway HST honours last survivor of the trenches, Harry Patch

The specially designed livery on 43172. GWR.

As part of the centenary commemoration of the First World War, Great Western Railway named 43172 Harry Patch – The last survivor of the trenches, the longest surviving soldier of the Great War at Bristol Temple Meads on November 6.

Harry was a native of the West Country, born in Combe Down, near Bath, in 1898 the son of a stonemason. He was conscripted in October 1916 and eventually posted to the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry serving as an assistant gunner in a Lewis Gun section. On September 22 1917, Harry was badly injured when a shell exploded overhead, killing three of his comrades.

The power car's name was unveiled by Harry’s Grandson and last known surviving relative Roger Patch. In attendance were renowned biographer Richard Van Emden; close friends of Harry towards the end of his life Jim Ross and David Isaacs; as well as local dignitaries.

Patch said: “We are absolutely delighted that GWR has named one of its locomotives after Grandad, he would have been thrilled about it. He was a very modest, quiet man and it was incredible how so many people took him to their heart as he became a symbol of remembrance. But to us, he will always be Grandad and we are extremely proud of everything he achieved.”

Harry became a symbol of remembrance as he became the last surviving soldier to have actually fought in the trenches and when he died on 25 July 2009 he was aged 111 year, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day.

GWR commissioned a specially designed livery as part of its commemoration of the Great War. The design includes the words from Laurence Binyon's Ode to Remembrance, a poem that whenever Harry heard it, he remembered his fallen comrades. Their nicknames, Jack, Jilly and Maudy are also featured within the design. Paul Gentleman, who created the liveries carried by Virgin Trains East Coast 91101/110/111, designed the livery.

The Class 43 will serve as a poignant reminder to the thousands who travel along the Great Western Main Line of the sacrifices that were made during the First World War.

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 09/11/2015 11:06

    Nice to see it displayed on the train and in good condition. RIP Harry Patch.

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  • Mark Daniel - 28/12/2015 14:25

    Did anyone notice the mistake in the wording of the first line of "The Ode" as portrayed on HST 43172? The correct line is "They shall grow not old..."

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  • Leila Bennett - 03/05/2017 20:36

    We were privileged to see this locomlocomotive at Reading in the summer of 2016. It caused quite a commotion at thr ststion with many passengers rushing up to photograph it. I think is was a lovely way to honor a hero like Mr Patch. Well done GWR.

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