Frank Buckles, who drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918 and came to symbolize a generation of embattled young Americans as the last of the World War I doughboys, died Sunday at his home in Charles Town, W. Va. He was 110.
He was only a corporal and he never got closer than 30 or so miles from the Western Front trenches, but Mr. Buckles became something of a national treasure as the last living link to the two million men who served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France in “the war to end all wars.”
Sought out for interviews in his final years, Mr. Buckles told of having witnessed a ceremony involving British veterans of the Crimean War, fought in the 1850s, when he was stationed in England before heading to France. He remembered chatting with General John J. Pershing, the commander of American troops in World War I, at an event in Oklahoma City soon after the war’s end.
The last known veterans of the French and German armies in World War I, Lazare Ponticelli and Erich Kästner, died a few months apart in 2008; Harry Patch, the last British soldier, died in 2009. A former nurse and a former sailor, both English, are thought to be the only two people still living who served in any capacity in the war.
Mr. Buckles is survived by his daughter, Susannah Flanagan. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999.NYT