One of France's last three WWI vets dead at 108

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 5, 2007 (AFP) - Jean Grelaud, one of France's last three surviving World War I veterans, died last month at the age of 108, his friends and family said Monday.

PARIS, March 5, 2007 (AFP) - Jean Grelaud, one of France's last three surviving World War I veterans, died last month at the age of 108, his friends and family said Monday.

 Grelaud, who had always been reticent to talk about the devastating conflict, died on February 25 after asking that his passing be kept secret for several days by his family.

Born on October 26, 1898, he joined the infantry in 1917 and saw fierce action almost immediately in the disatrous Second Battle of the Aisne.

The following year he was captured during the Second Battle of the Marne -- the last major German offensive on the Western Front -- before escaping to Belgium.

He also saw action in World War II.

Only two "poilus" -- as World War I veterans are known in France -- still survive, both aged 109. In 2005 Chirac promised that the last to die would receive a state homage.

Some 8.5 million French soldiers fought in the 1914-1918 conflict, of whom some 1.38 million died in action.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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