Obituaries – Claud Choules and Richard Holmes

Military has seen two sad passings in the past few days.

Claude Choules -  The last one of 70m

Image by Tram Painter via Flickr

Claude Choules (1901-2011)

The last known veteran of the First World War died last week. A former Tommy, Claude Choules later emigrated to Australia. Claude Choules was born in 1901, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman in 1915. He served in the G

rand Fleet, and witnessed the scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919. In 1926 he emigrated to Australia, and then joined the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. In the event of a Japanese invasion Choules would have been responsible for destroying ports in Western Australia. Later in life Choules became a pacifist, shunning celebrations which he saw as glorifying war.

Professor Richard Holmes CBE TD JP (1946-2011)

Out of all of the modern TV Historians, I have found Richard Holmes to be the most impressive. A former TA Officer who commanded a Battalion and finished up a Brigadier, he was ideally placed to write and present the popular War Walks series. I particularly enjoyed the programmes on Waterloo, Hastings and the Boyne – which led to my family calling me ‘Seamus a caca’, or in english, ‘James the shithead’. Later Holmes went on to write acclaimed Biographies of Wellington and Marlborough, the two men widely regarded as Britain’s best ever Generals. Both books were eminently readable and enjoyable. On BBC TV‘s Great Briton’s programme he championed Oliver Cromwell, not an easy task, and acquited himself rather well. Military History is a lesser field for his passing.

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38 Comments

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38 responses to “Obituaries – Claud Choules and Richard Holmes

  1. x

    I was very upset to hear about Professor Holmes. So “young” too. I have several of his books. And I will always watch War Walks if it is on.

    I harbour a secret ambition to be the naval Holmes.

  2. John Erickson

    I had heard of Mr. Coules passing, but not that of Prof. Holmes. You can’t turn on the History Channel or Military Channel here in the states, without seeing Prof. Holmes several times a day. I’ve always enjoyed his presentations, and he helped a lot of Americans understand the little “row” in the South Pacific a few decades ago. ;)
    He will be sorely missed.
    And X, if you want to be the naval Prof. Holmes, you’ll have to submit evidence of your mustache. No historians without appropriate facial hair. :D

    • James Daly

      too right! No historian can expect to be taken seriously without tweed, cordurouys and facial hair. Not sure what my Sarah would have to say about that mind…

    • John Erickson

      Oh,I think you could pull off a nice, scholarly goatee. Maybe even some sideburns, within reason. Of course, the front of your hair HAS to go. No serious historian has a hairline further forward than about 2″ in front of his ears. Extra points for a sharp widow’s peak or the “Captain Picard” fringe. :D

  3. x

    I confess that I nearly did buy a Norfolk once because of the late great professor.

    At the time we were attending a few of game fairs a year. And where I live you wouldn’t look at our place. :)

  4. x

    James please amend to “you wouldn’t look out of place.”

  5. John Erickson

    Not on topic, but an interesting article about the resurgence of the carrier.

    http://www.military.com/news/article/aircraft-carriers-gain-clout-in-naval-power.html?ESRC=eb.nl

    The link looks messy, but is virus-free. Enjoy!

    • x

      Well “we” are still putting up with the RAF Tornado from funnily enough Norfolk being touted as epic. And having the rather empty reason for manned strike that it avoids collateral damaged rammed down our throat too.

      Odd isn’t that both France and Italy are using their carriers with them being so close to Libya? The French being French are using their nuclear powered few acres (hectares!) of sovereign territory to push the ROE under UN1973 to the limit (and a little beyond!)

      At the moment I am getting tired of all the anti-CVF lot harping on about anybody who thinks CVF will get 36 airframe carrier air group is bonkers. And that a carrier group of 12 is hardly worth the effort. I find it annoying because at the moment all the RAF can managed to field is 30 FJ (10 Tornadoes in A-stan, 10 Tornadoes + 10 Typhoons in Italy.) With an on ration strength of 40,000 odd that isn’t much to crow about. So an air group of 12 (perhaps more in a surge) in CVF compared to current RAF deployed numbers isn’t that bad. If 36 is a fantasy what does that make 30?

    • John Erickson

      I haven’t gotten a chance to read the whole thing yet. The author did seem to forget about the little time gap until CVF comes along. I also found it odd including the Japanese “Hyuga” class, considering they are one of several “helo only” carriers lumped in (along with the US Wasps), and rather on the small side (why not include LCS?). Maybe “interesting” wasn’t the best choice of adjectives – that’s why James is the writer in residence! ;)

  6. John Erickson

    By the by, anybody know where I can find what non-US ships are participating in UNITAS 2011? I can find the US ships no problem, but all the references I find speak of “five ships from Brazil and Mexico”. Thanks!

  7. Pingback: Nuclear War in 2011

  8. John Erickson

    Okay, I gotta re-sign up for notices since one of my Emails has stomped off in a huff, so I’ll also throw a shameless plug. If you want to learn a bunch of lurid details about me, head on over to http://thelifeofjamie.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/an-interview-with-the-goat-whisperer/
    Everything you wanted to know about me, but had the good sense not to ask. And ignore the comments about Harems and Idiots – it’s an inside joke too long to recapitulate here. Enjoy, all! :D

  9. Joe Domican

    I knew Richard from the TA he invited me several times over to walk the battlefields of the first world war with him in France and Belgium. It is very sad to hear of his death he was a totally interesting and engaging guy so sad we build our lives aquiring knowledge and then it ends. He was a military man and yet hated war a contradition which I could relate to. Condolences to his family.

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