Claude Stanley Choules, the last known combat veteran of the first world war, died on Thursday at a nursing home in Perth, Western Australia his family have said. He was 110.
"We all loved him," his 84-year-old daughter Daphne Edinger said. "It's going to be sad to think of him not being here any longer, but that's the way things go."
Beloved for his wry sense of humour and humble nature, the British-born Choules nicknamed "Chuckles" by his comrades in the Australian navy never liked to fuss over his achievements, which included a 41-year military career and the publication of his first book at the age of 108.
He usually told the curious that the secret to a long life was simply to "keep breathing." Sometimes, he chalked up his longevity to cod liver oil. But his children say in his heart, he believed it was the love of his family that kept him going for so many years.
"His family was the most important thing in his life," his other daughter, Anne Pow, said in a March 2010 interview. "It was a good way to grow up, you know. Very reassuring."
Choules was born on 3 March, 1901, in Pershore, Worcestershire, one of seven children. As a child, he was told his mother had died – a lie meant to cover a more painful truth. She left when he was five to pursue an acting career. The abandonment affected him profoundly, Pow said, and he grew up determined to create a happy home for his own children.