Last surviving veterans of historic wars.

The last surviving veteran of any particular war, upon his death, marks the end of a historic era, when that era ceases to be within living memory and sometimes it can stay in living memory longer that we realise. Exactly who is the last surviving veteran of any war is often an issue of contention, especially with records from long-ago wars. The 'last man still standing' was often very young at the time of enlistment and in many cases had lied about his age to gain entry into the service, which confuses matters further. Below represent what each nation concerned recognises as the last surviving veterans of their respective wars, because their clams, unlike others who claim to have outlived the official veterans, can be verified.
American Revolutionary War

John Gray (January 6, 1764 – March 29, 1868) was one of the candidates for last surviving U.S. veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He was advertised as such by journalist James Dazell and as of 1876 was believed by the Pension Office of the U.S. Department of the Interior to be the last surviving veteran.
His claim to the 'last surviving veteran' of the War depends primarily on the failure of his competitors Daniel F. Bakeman and George Fruits, who died a year, and several years, after him. Bakeman and Gray had been granted pensions, by special act of the U.S. Congress (on February 14, 1867, retroactive to June 1, 1866). The special act was required because the two had not previously applied for pensions or service land grants and Bakeman was unable to prove his service; Gray, while able to prove his service, had only served six months; Fruits had never had any pension.
Gray was born on Mount Vernon plantation, also the home of George Washington. His father fought in the war and was killed in the Battle of White Plains. Gray joined at age 16 in 1780, and was eventually present at the Battle of Yorktown. After the war he moved to the Northwest Territory, and lived out most of his life in Noble County, Ohio. He had three wives during his life and fathered at least four children. He died at age 104 years, 2 months, 23 days. A memorial to Gray is located along State Route 821 in Noble County's Noble Township.

The French Revolutionary Wars

Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Savin (1768–1894) was a French soldier and super-centenarian. He was the last survivor of the French Revolutionary Wars of 1792-1802 and the last French officer of the Napoleonic Wars.
Savin enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of Hussars in 1788, claiming to have been born in 1768. His father, Alexandre Savin, was killed in battle defending Tulieres during the French Revolution. Savin fought in Egypt in 1798, the Peninsular War, and in the 1812 invasion of Russia. Around this time he was promoted to sous-officier (lieutenant) and transferred to the 24th Chasseurs a Cheval. He was awarded many medals, including the Legion d'Honneur and St Helena Medal. In 1812 he was captured by the Cossacks and worked as a fencing teacher for the Tsarist army.
Following Napoleon's defeat Savin settled at Saratov Gubernia, Russia and changed his name to Nikolai Alexdrevich Savin. He married a Russian woman and had at least one daughter. From 1814-74 he worked as a tutor, teaching French to the children of Nobility. Savin attributes his long life to his tea-drinking and active lifestyle: the old man enjoyed painting and continued gardening until he fell sick in November 1894. After receiving the Sacraments Savin died on November 29 and is buried in the local Catholic cemetery.

American Civil War

Albert Henry Woolson (February 11, 1847/8 – August 2, 1956), was the last official surviving member of the Union Army, which fought in the American Civil War. He was also the last surviving Civil War veteran on either side whose status is currently undisputed. (At least three men who followed him in death claimed to be Confederate veterans, but their status as Civil War veterans is in dispute.)
Woolson was born in Antwerp, New York. His father, Willard Woolson, enlisted in the Union Army. Willard was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh and was transported to an Army hospital in Windom, Minnesota, where he eventually died of his wounds. Albert and his mother moved to Windom to accompany Willard. Albert enlisted as a drummer boy in Company C, 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment on October 10, 1864, becoming the company's drummer. The company never actually saw action, and Albert Woolson was discharged on Sept. 7, 1865.
Woolson returned to Minnesota, where he lived the rest of his life. He was a carpenter and later a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a powerful political organization made up of Civil War veterans where he became senior vice commander in chief in 1953.
In his final days, he lived at 215 East Fifth Street in Duluth, Minnesota. Woolson died at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth on August 2, 1956, at what was thought to be the age of 109, of a 'recurring lung congestion condition'. Woolson was buried with full military honours by the National Guard and is buried at Park Hill cemetery. Following his death, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower said:
'The American people have lost the last personal link with the Union Army ... His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the War Between the States'
Life magazine ran a seven-page article upon the death of Albert Woolson, in the August 20, 1956 issue, the article included much information about the G.A.R., with pictures or drawings of several encampments (conventions). Also included are photos of the last three living Confederate soldiers (disputed): William Lundy, 108; Walter Williams, 113; and John Salling, 110.
In mid-2006, new census research indicated that Albert Woolson was actually only 106 years old, being listed as less than one year old in the 1850 census. Previous research in 1991 has suggested he was younger than claimed (However census data is well known to be incorrect by two or three years in thousands of verified cases, but with the later mentioned CSA veterans we run into the problem of 10 to 15 years), although this does not affect his veteran status.
After his death, the Grand Army of the Republic was dissolved because Woolson was its last surviving member.


Pleasant Riggs Crump (December 23, 1847 – December 31, 1951) was a Confederate soldier, now believed by most to be the last living American Civil War veteran who fought for the Confederacy. Although survived by several claimants of now debunked status (such as Thomas Riddle, William Lundy, John B. Salling and Walter Williams), only Crump's status has been conclusively confirmed.
Born in Crawford's Cove, St. Clair County, Alabama, Crump and a friend left home and travelled to Petersburg, Virginia, where Crump enlisted as a private in the 10th Alabama Infantry in November 1864. Assigned to Company A, Crump saw action at the Battle of Hatcher's Run, participated in the siege of Petersburg before witnessing General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, as well as attending Lee's official surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Returning to his home in rural Alabama following the Confederate surrender, Crump soon relocated to Lincoln in nearby Talladega County. There, at age 22, he married Mary Hall, a local. Five children resulted from this marriage, which lasted until she died on December 31, 1901. Crump took Ella Wallis of Childersburg as his wife in 1905. Following her death in July 1942, he shared a home with a grandson's family. The United Confederate Veterans awarded him the honorary title of colonel. In 1950, he met with 98-year-old Gen. James Moore, who was then recognized to be the only other remaining veteran of Alabama. Crump died having just turned 104 and is buried in Hall Cemetery, Lincoln.

The Crimean War

Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton (31 May 1845 - 15 February 1940) was a British electrical engineer, industrialist and inventor. He was born at Sion Hill, near Thirsk, Yorkshire, one of five children. From an early age he was interested in machines and engineering. His autobiography tells how a trip to the Great Exhibition aged 6 had a profound impact on him:
'For me, the unforgettable part and focus of the whole exhibition was the Machinery Hall...neither Koh-I-Noor diamond, nor Osler's crystal fountain...had any attractions for me to compare with those of the locomotives, with their brilliantly polished piston rods and brasses burnished like gold.'
His schooling started at Sharow, near Ripon in Yorkshire, along with 19 other boys, aged between 7 and 15. One of his fellow pupils there was Charles Dodgson, better known as the author Lewis Carroll.
But Crompton's education was interrupted by the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 and he was keen to see action, despite his young age. In mid-1856, after the conclusion of the war, he travelled to the Crimea on HMS Dragon and visited his brother in what had been the front line. Thereafter, he repeatedly asserted his claim to the award of the British Crimean War Medal with the clasp for Sebastopol - but was, in fact, entitled to neither. Crompton was never enrolled in the British Navy.
After the Crimea, Crompton returned to Britain and went to Harrow School. He eschewed the school's highly classical education, decided to study extra mathematics. He built his own static electricity generator and performed experiments with Leyden Jars. During a summer holiday, he designed and built a road-going steam tractor called Bluebell.
He was a pioneer of electric lighting and public electricity supply systems. The company he formed, Crompton & Co., was one of the world's first large-scale manufactures of electrical equipment. He was also an early campaigner for an international standard for electrical systems. He was involved with both the practical and academic sides of his discipline, being a founder member of the International Electrotechnical Commission and twice president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He was a member of the Royal Society and a founder member of the Royal Automobile Club.
Colonel Crompton died in February 1940, aged 95.

Zulu Wars

Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Edward Bourne OBE DCM (April 1854 – 8 May 1945) was a decorated British soldier who participated in the defence of Rorke's Drift during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. He was also the last known survivor of the battle.
Born in Balcombe, Sussex, England in 1854, Bourne enlisted in the Army at Reigate on 18 December 1872, aged 18 years 8 months. Four years later he had been promoted to Colour Sergeant becoming the youngest NCO of his rank in the entire British Army. This earned him the nickname 'The Kid'.
On 22 and 23 January 1879, Bourne was part of the garrison at Rorke's Drift, Natal, South Africa, which held off a Zulu army. Bourne, who was now an NCO in B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, helped organise the defence at the mission station and field hospital. Throughout the day and night of the battle, the Zulus made repeated attacks against the barricades, but the outnumbered defenders held out until relief arrived.
For his bravery, Bourne received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for 'outstanding coolness and courage' during the battle, with a £10 annual annuity. The DCM, until 1993, was the second highest military decoration (after the Victoria Cross) awarded to other ranks of the British Army. He was offered a commission, but 'being an eighth son, and the family exchequer ... empty', he declined it.
After Rorke's Drift, Frank Bourne served in British India and Burma, being promoted to Quartermaster-Sergeant in 1884. He was commissioned in 1890. He was appointed Adjutant of the School of Musketry at Hythe, Kent, and retired in 1907. At the outbreak of the First World War, he re-enlisted. By 1918, he had been given the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and made an OBE.
Bourne lived in retirement at 16 King's Hall Road, Beckenham, Kent. He was the last surviving defender from Rorke's Drift, dying on VE Day (8 May 1945), at the age of 91. Bourne was buried in Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery.

The Boer War

George Frederick Ives (November 17, 1881 – April 12, 1993) was the last surviving veteran of the Boer Wars. George Ives became known in the UK after a piece in the Peterborough Column in the Daily Telegraph. His record as oldest British veteran, at 111 years and 146 days, of any war was only broken on November 1, 2007 by First World War veteran Henry Allingham.
Ives was born at Brighton, England. The family worked for the Tidmarsh family. He worked in his father's work shop in Bristol until 1899. That December, Ives was eager to enlist after hearing that the British had been defeated at Colenso, Magersfontein.
In the Boer War, George fought with the Imperial Yeomanry, along with 122 other veterans, of the British Army in South Africa.
Ives emigrated to Canada in 1903 with his father and purchased 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land for ten dollars. He was rejected from service in World War I because of a heart murmur.
In 1910, he married Kay Nelson. The couple had three sons and three daughters. Nelson disliked hard-life of the prairies, so the family moved in 1919 to White Rock, British Columbia. Ives owned a farm there and eventually retired from it in 1941. He looked and found another job because he said that his retirement was an excuse to change jobs. So until 1956, 15 years later, he worked in a shipyard building wooden scows, and confirmed his retirement.
The couple had resided in that same house until 1984, until moving into a retirement home. He attended the Albert Hall service on Remembrance day 1992 in England and met Queen Elizabeth and her mother; Baroness Margaret Thatcher, and Prime Minister John Major. Ives died on April 12, 1993 at aged 111 years, 146 days in Canada.

The Potemkin Mutiny

Ivan Beshoff (1885–1987) Was a sailor on Russian battleship Potemkin during the famous mutiny in the 1905 revolution.  He is officially the last survivor of the 1905 mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin, a harbinger of the Russian Revolution.
Born near the Black Sea port of Odessa, Beshoff abandoned chemistry studies and joined the Imperial Navy, serving in the engine room of the Potemkin.
The mutiny over poor food was the first mass expression of discontent in Tsar Nicholas II's military and later came to be seen as a prelude to the 1917 Russian Revolution.
The mutineers killed the captain and several officers. The entire Black Sea fleet was ordered to suppress the rebellion, but crews refused to fire on the battleship, and it sailed for 11 days before surrendering. These events were made into a feature film by Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein in 1925, which became one of the most famous and influential propaganda films of all time.
After the mutiny was suppressed Beshoff claimed he fled through Turkey to London, where he met Lenin. He settled in Ireland in 1913, saying he had tired of the sea, and opened a fish and chip shop. His birth certificate said he was 102 years old when he died in 1987, but he contended he was 104.