One of Canada's last WWI veterans dies

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
One of Canada's last WWI veterans dies

Last Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2007 | 11:19 AM ET

CBC News

One of Canada's last three surviving veterans from the First World War, Victor (Lloyd) Clemett, has died. He was 107.
Born on Dec. 10, 1899, in Toronto, Clemett died late Wednesday night at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
During an interview with CBC News late last year, Clemett was asked about the secret to his longevity, and responded, "Just taking it easy, not running too wild and having a good time."
Clemett enlisted in the army in 1916, a month after turning 16, following in the footsteps of his three older brothers who had already left for the battlefields.
Remarkably, all four would later return home — though one suffered shrapnel injuries to the head. He would survive to the ripe old age of 96.
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Clemett was sent to England, where a concerned colonel transferred him to the forestry brigade upon learning the teen's young age.
When the brigade was deployed to France a year later, Clemett repeatedly volunteered to go to the front lines and was headed there when armistice was declared on Nov. 11, 1918.
"It was all over a month or so before I reached the front line. I was within the sounds of the heavy guns and that was it," he said.
'No hurrahs' at war's end
There was no disappointment, but no excitement either when his battalion heard news that the war was over.
"No hurrahs," he said of the reaction. "The war was over. That was all there was to it."
He said he never regretted joining the army and realized how lucky he was to return home, but lamented that the war was in vain.
"The war accomplished nothing. Eventually things settled down and we get into the old style of life again," said Clemett.
Clemett would later choose not to sign up for the Second World War, with his wife and two boys to think about.
Orphaned at young age
Clemett, his three brothers and two sisters were orphaned at a young age, forcing them to move in with relatives in the small Ontario community of Omemee, about 120 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

Lloyd Clemett, shown above in a 2005 interview, was one of the last three surviving First World War veterans, but insisted he didn t want a state funeral.Lloyd Clemett, shown above in a 2005 interview, was one of the last three surviving First World War veterans, but insisted he didn't want a state funeral.

At age eight, he began working, first at a creamery wrapping butter and later at a leather tannery.
When he returned from the war, he ended up back in the Toronto area for most of the rest of his life.
Though he dreamed of becoming a civil engineer when he returned from the war, he ended up working at Canadian Pacific.
In the late 1920s, he started a lawn mower sales and service business in Toronto that survived the Great Depression, and through the decades he worked in a variety of service and repair jobs.
His wife, Catherine, passed away in 1993, but Clemett continued to live at their family home in North Toronto until just over two years ago when he moved into a veterans' residence at Sunnybrook.
Two surviving WWI veterans
Clemett's death leaves two WWI veterans, Percy Wilson and John Babcock.
The federal government has agreed to hold a state funeral for the last veteran. A state funeral is one of the highest honours Canada can bestow, and are normally reserved for prime ministers and governors general.
But families must agree to it and both surviving veterans have indicated disinterest.
Clemett's family had also said he would rather have a simple memorial service because he doesn't think national attention should be directed at a single person.
He's getting his wish — a private funeral service will be held for family and close friends.

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