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One of Britain's last surviving WWI vets dies

Bill Stone, one of Britain's last surviving World War I veterans has died aged 108, the Ministry of Defense said Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bill Stone, one of Britain's last surviving World War I veterans has died, the Ministry of Defense said Monday. He was 108.

Stone is the last known veteran in Britain to have fought in both World War I and World War II. He was one of just three World War I survivors who took part in last year's services to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The Ministry of Defense said Stone died Jan. 10 from a chest infection.

William Stone was born in Devon, in southwest England, on 23 September 1900, the 10th of 14 children. He followed his three older brothers into the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday — he had wanted to join when he was 15 but his father refused to sign his papers. He joined the coal-fired battle cruiser HMS Tiger just weeks before the Allies declared victory. He stayed with the Royal Navy after the end of the war, sailing all over the world, from Cape Town to Jakarta.

He was working as chief stoker on mine sweeper HMS Salamander when World War II broke out and he took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, making five trips to the beaches to rescue exhausted Allied soldiers.

Stone married his wife Lily in 1938 and their daughter Anne was born a year later, a few months before the start of World War II. He left the navy in 1945 and opened up a tobacco and hairdressing shop in Devon, using the haircutting skills he had picked up during his time in service. Stone's wife died in 1995. A member of the Freemason society since 1933, Stone moved into a Masonic Care Home two years ago.

His daughter Anne Davidson paid tribute to her father Monday, and said he continued to tell stories about the navy all his life.