Arthur Halestrap bigraphy, stories - Engineers

Arthur Halestrap : biography

8 September 1898 - 1 April 2004

Arthur Halestrap MBE (8 September 1898 – 1 April 2004) was one of the last surviving British soldiers of the First World War.

He was born in Southampton, Hampshire. In his youth he walked the decks of the Titanic before she sailed. He tried to enlist in the British armed forces shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. His request was refused on account of his youth. However, in September 1916, he joined the Royal Engineers Signal Division and was sent to France in January 1918. After the First World War, Halestrap worked for Marconi.

In the Second World War, he became a member of the Royal Corps of Signals, and in 1942 was seconded to the Special Operations Executive. He lost his only son during the war. Afterwards, he worked at first as a member of the Allied Control Commission in Germany, then as a member of the Diplomatic Wireless Service. He retired in 1970.

In 1963, Halestrap was appointed as a Member of The Order of the British Empire. He was awarded the French Légion d'honneur in 1988.

He continued to appear on television documentaries into his extremely old age. In 2003, aged 105, he was the only British veteran of the First World War to attend the Armistice Day Ceremony in Ypres, where he rose from his wheelchair and, in a clear and strong voice, recited Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen". Along with Harry Patch and a few others, he was featured in the 2003 television series World War 1 in Colour as well as "The Last Tommy" on BBC 1 in 2005.

Arthur Halestrap died in Kings Sutton, where he had moved in the 1960s.

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