Last female WWI veteran dies

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A WOMAN believed to be the last surviving female veteran of the First World War has died, the Ministry of Defence said.

Gladys Powers died aged 109 in British Columbia, Canada.

Mrs Powers was born in Lewisham, south London, and emigrated to Canada after the war. She served with the Women's Auxiliary Corps and later the Women's RAF. She died on 14 August and her funeral was held in Canada yesterday.

It is thought she may have been the world's last surviving female veteran of the war.

All but a few of the records of women who served in the First World War were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, making it impossible to formally confirm her service details.

Paying tribute to Mrs Powers, veterans minister Derek Twigg said: "I am saddened to learn of the death of Gladys Powers, who may have been the world's last surviving female service veteran from the First World War.

"Over 80,000 women served in our armed forces in that war. Although they may not have realised it at the time, these early women volunteers did much to break down the barriers for all those service women who have come after them and who continue to serve their country so proficiently and professionally."

Mr Twigg has written a letter of condolence to Greg Thompson, the Canadian minister for veterans affairs.

Mrs Powers' death brings the number of remaining First World War veterans to three.

They are Henry Allingham, 110, who served with the Royal Naval Air Service and is believed to be Britain's oldest man.

Harry Patch, 110, is the last surviving Tommy and former Naval Seaman William Stone is 107.

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