One of the three remaining British veterans of the first world war has died at a care home in Berkshire at the age of 108, after what his daughter described as "a remarkable, long, healthy and happy life".
Despite his age, former sailor Bill Stone, who died on Saturday, had travelled to the Cenotaph last November to take part in the ceremony to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armistice. There, alongside Henry Allingham, 112, and Harry Patch, 110, he watched the wreaths being laid and joined in the singing.
Stone, who was born in Ledstone, near Kingsbridge, Devon on 23 September 1900, followed in the footsteps of his three older brothers and joined the Royal Navy as a stoker on his 18th birthday. He had tried to join the navy three years earlier, but his father had refused to sign the papers.
After peace broke out he served aboard HMS Hood and took part in the round-the-world "empire cruise" visiting the colonies between 1922 and 1924.
By the time war came round again, he was chief stoker on HMS Salamander. As well as participating in the evacuation of Dunkirk - making five trips to pluck troops from the beaches - he served in the Sicily landings of 1943 aboard HMS Newfoundland and was mentioned in dispatches after a torpedo attack.
After leaving the services in 1945 he opened a tobacconist and hairdresser's in Paignton, Devon, before retiring in 1968. He married his wife, Lily, in 1938, and their marriage lasted until her death in 1995.
The couple's daughter, Anne Davidson, said yesterday: "William had a remarkable, long, healthy and happy life. He thoroughly enjoyed going to events, meeting people and, whenever possible, regaling those around him with his fund of naval stories and jokes. He loved singing."
Her father, she added, was a "very determined character" whose longevity probably had much to do with his resolve. "He was a man of great faith and his recipe for long life was: 'Clean living, contented mind and trust in God.' His motto: 'Keep going.'"
The funeral will be held at St Leonard's church, Watlington, Oxfordshire, towards the end of the month.
One of UK's three remaining first world war veterans dies at 108
25 July 2009