January 22, 2008

And then there was one

One surviving French veteran (poilu) from World War I, that is.

Louis de Cazenave, one of the last two official surviving French WWII veterans, died two days ago at age 110. Following his death, Lazare Ponticelli has become the last fully verified French veteran of World War I. (Apparently, the French government has approved a state funeral for the last official World War I French veteran to die. I'm sure he's not holding his breath in anticipation! ;))

Interestingly, Germany's last known veteran of WWI, Kästner, Erich, died on new years day this year at age 1008 and so did Poland's last known WWI veteran -Wycech, Stanisław - who died on Jan 12th, 2008 at age 108.

Lucky guys to live so long (90 + years!) after being involved in a war that claimed an estimated 20 million people (
9.7 million military deaths and about 10 million civilian deaths) around the world!

Wikipedia has a link about surviving veterans of WWI. There are three living in the US - aged 106, 107, and 108 - of which one of them (the 106 year old) had "completed basic training, but did not see action: he was held back in reserves in England due to age." Actually the link says he was Canadian then - not American - but lives in the US now.

And the 108 year old, Harry Landis, apparently is in a nursing home in Florida, where he lives with his 100-year-old wife. Nice.

Incidentally, the last woman veteran from WWI, Charlotte Winters , died last year at age 109. Gladys Powers of Canada (age 108), who served for Britain, is now the last surviving female veteran of WWI.

P.S. More factoids about WWI.... if you be so inclined.

Wikipedia also has a link that discusses last surviving US war veterans in various wars over history.

A nice summary of tables at this article:

36: Countries involved in fighting

65 million: Soldiers served

4.7 million: U.S. veterans of war

2 million: U.S. troops sent overseas

25,000: American women who served overseas

53,402: Americans killed in action

63,114: Americans died of disease and other causes

1: Out of three French men age 13-30 died

3.5 million: Estimated prisoners of war by 1917

Sources: National World War I Museum, Congressional Research Service

Last Spanish-American War veteran:Nathan Cook died at 106 on Sept. 10, 1992, nearly 94 years after the war ended.

Last Civil War Union veteran:Albert Woolson died at 109 on Aug. 2, 1956, or 91 years after the war ended.

Last Civil War Confederate veteran:John Salling died at 112 on March 16, 1958, nearly 93 years after the war ended.

Last Revolutionary War veteran:Daniel Bakeman died at 109 on April 5, 1869, nearly 86 years after the war ended.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

How the United States' major modern wars compare



Number served

U.S. military deaths

U.S. military wounded

Major weapons introduced

World War I


4.7 million



Airplane, tank, chemical warfare

World War II


16.1 million



Amphibious assault ships, paratroops, atom bomb

Korean War


5.7 million



Helicopters, first jet aircraft in combat

Vietnam War


8.7 million



Rapid-fire assault rifles, laser-guided bombs, unmanned aerial vehicles

Persian Gulf War


2.2 million



Spy satellites, stealth aircraft

Afghanistan and Iraq

October 2001-present

1.5 million



Satellite-guided bombs

Sources: Congressional Research Service, GlobalSecurity.org, Defense Department.

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