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Oldest Canadian WWI veteran dies

world Updated: Feb 20, 2010 18:56 IST

PTI
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John Babcock, the oldest Canadian veteran of World War I has dies at the age of 109.

Babcock's death on Thursday has left only two Great War veterans -- British-born Australian Claude Choules (108) and American Frank Buckles, 109.

Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper said on Friday: "I was deeply saddened to learn today of the death of John Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran.

"As a nation, we honour his service and mourn his passing. He was Canada's last living link to the Great War, today they are all gone," Harper was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Babcock, born on July 23, 1900, was among 650,000 men and women who served in the Canadian forces during WWI.

He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Regiment when he was just 15, lying about his age.

According to an autobiography he wrote for his 100th birthday, he enlisted in the Canadian Army just after New Year's Day in 1916 and was assigned to the so-called 'Young Soldiers Battalion,' as it was discovered that he was only 16.

After the war, he moved to the United States. He joined the US Army in 1921, even though he was not a citizen. He became a naturalised citizen in 1946.

Babcock attributed his longevity to the physical training he received from serving in two armies in his youth. He didn't drink much and stopped smoking a long time ago.

He is survived by his second wife, a son, a daughter and numerous grandchildren.