THE longest surviving Tommy, Harry Patch, recovered from being injured during the Battle of Passchendale - the Third Battle of Ypres - to live to the ripe old age of 111.

Born in 1898, he was conscripted into the British Army as a private in October 1916, reporting for duty at Tolland Barracks, in Taunton.

He was promoted to lance-corporal but soon after demoted to private again following a fist fight with a soldier, who had taken his boots from his billet.

He went through a series of attachments to several regiments, including the Royal Warwickshire Regiment before being posted after completing training to the 7th (Service) Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, serving as an assistant gunner in a Lewis gun section.

He arrived in France in June 1917 and was injured in the groin, when a shell exploded overhead barely three months later, in an incident that took the lives of three of his comrades.

He was removed from the front line, returned to England in December 1917 and was still convalescing on the Isle of Wight when the Armistice was declared the following November.

Later he said: "When the war ended, I don't know if I was more relieved that we'd won or that I didn't have to go back.

"Passchendaele was a disastrous battle—thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry."

Before his death, Harry Patch returned to Ypres to shake the hand of Charles Kuentz, Germany's only surviving war veteran who was 87 at the time.

At the time, Harry Patch said: "It was emotional. He is 107. We've had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it's a licence to go out and murder.

"Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn't speak?

"All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?"

Harry Patch, who was born in Combe Down, died in a care home in Wells in 2009.

The then Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I had the honour of meeting Harry, and I share his family's grief at the passing of a great man."

The Bishop of Bath and Wells at that time, the Rt Rev Peter Price, said: "He was a remarkable man from a remarkable generation.

"I knew Harry Patch well and had a great admiration for him. He was a very gracious gentleman."