5th Dec, 2016

Brave tale lies behind new Pershore road name

Joshua Godfrey 21st Feb, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A PERSHORE war hero who was the last surviving veteran of the First World War has had a road named after him to remember the sacrifice he and millions of other servicemen made.

Local dignities and a representative from the Australian High Commission officially opened Choules Close, on the Abbey Meadows housing development, last Wednesday (February 10) which has been named after brave servicemen Claude Choules who was born in Bridge Street in 1901.

The veteran first joined the Royal Navy in 1916 after lying about his age and served on the battleship HMS Revenge.

He witnessed the surrender of the German Imperial Navy at the Firth Forth in 1918 along with the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow.

Then in 1926, Claude went to Australia on loan but decided to remain permanently with the Royal Australian Navy having met his future wife down under.

Having already fought in one world war, Claude served as the acting torpedo officer of HMAS Freemantle and as the Chief Demolition Officer during the Second World War.

He was given the task of sabotaging Freemantle harbours and oil storage tanks in the event of a Japanese invasion.

As a demolition and explosives expert, Claude took charge of an operation to clear 15 flying boats from the port of Broome to make the channel clear before he was flown to Western Australia to destroy the first mine to wash up on Australian soil in the Second World War.

After the conflict, he was transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police where he eventually retired in 1956 at the age of 55 having served for a total of 40 years in the navy.

During his well earned retirement he operated a boat catching crayfish off the coast of Western Australia and later in his 80s he took a writing course so he could write a book on his experiences.

Following his death in May 2011 at the age of 110, the Australian Navy honoured the war veteran by naming one of their fleets as HMAS Choules in his memory.

Pershore’s Mayor Coun Tony Rowley and Australian High Commission Captain Warren Bairstow were on hand to perform the ceremony.

Coun Rowley said: “Pershore has chosen to acknowledge this link with the First World War and Australia by naming the street after Claude Choules.

“I hope it will be a reminder of the contribution made by all service personnel who have faced the challenges of conflict over the last century,” he added.