War hero Harry Patch presented with new medal
One of the last surviving First World War veterans in the country was given a new honour this weekend at Bath Fire Station.
Harry Patch, who celebrated his 110th birthday earlier this year, is now the oldest ex-firefighter in the country.
He was presented with a medal at the Cleveland Bridge fire station in recognition of his four-year stint with the Auxiliary Fire Service during the Second World War.
Mr Patch, who is also the oldest person to have served in the trenches during the First World War, fought blazes in Bath and also served in Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare.
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The Bath-born veteran, who now lives in a residential home in Wells, also witnessed the opening of the city’s fire station in 1938.
During his time as a firefighter he was machine-gunned by German aircraft and accidentally parked over an unexploded bomb.
At the end of the conflict, he was awarded the 1939-45 Defence Medal for his fire work, but it has since been lost.
Yesterday he was presented with a replacement medal by Avon Fire and Rescue chief fire officer Kevin Pearson. Mr Pearson said: “It is a real honour for me to have met him and present him with the medal for his service to Bath during the Blitz.
“His original medal was misplaced and it was Harry’s wish that because he did his service in Bath and saw this station open that he came here to be presented with his medal. “He is an amazing man and what a life he has had and what a story he has to tell.
“The amount of changes he will have seen over the years is incredible particularly in terms of the fire service.
“But although the uniforms have changed and the way we work is different, the spirit of the fire service remains the same.
“He is a model firefighter and showed excellent spirit as someone who put his life at risk. “He is a true inspiration to every firefighter across the country."
Mr Patch was given a tour of the station and shown the firefighting and rescue techniques used by modern crews.
He was also presented with a citizen's award from the Mayor of Bath, Cllr Tim Ball, who said: “It is wonderful to see Harry here today. It is wonderful to be able to give him this award for recognition for his service he has given to Bath for so many years.
"And it is brilliant to be here to recognise his great age, to which we would all like to aspire to.”