WWI Veteran Dies at 104

I justy found this fascinating:

Myer Lewis, who served under the Canadian flag in World War I and the U.S. stars and stripes in World War II, has died. He was 104. He gloried in victory parades in London at the cessation of European fighting in both wars — after the November 1918 armistice and after V-E Day in May 1945 — and remembered both as “a big, big thrill.” “My part in World War I and World War II was very small, but I was happy to do what I could for these two great countries,” Lewis said three years ago in Cupertino, Calif., when the government of Canada presented him the McCrae Medallion and Queen’s Certificate in gratitude for his service during the Great War.

The son of a career soldier in the British Army, Lewis was born in London in 1899, and moved with the family to postings in South Africa and Malta before immigrating to Ottawa, Canada, in 1910. Later working as a clerk there, the teenage Lewis enlisted with the Motor Transport Unit of the Canadian Army Service Corps as part of its World War I 4th Expeditionary Force. Although Lewis was 43 as the U.S. built up forces for World War II, he enlisted in the Navy with Fleet Air Wing 7. He returned to England, serving in the Dunkeswell area in antisubmarine patrols. Three years later, he remembered escorting in the first German U-boat to surface after Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945.

Both wars brought him into contact with celebrity entertainers — Sarah Bernhardt after the Great War, and Irving Berlin and Kate Smith during World War II. Mentally sharp until his death, Lewis, who lived in three centuries, was asked what he considered the most important advancement of the 20th. Without hesitation, he said, “the silicon chip.”

I know nothing about this fellow, but since you mentioned WWI, I thought I’d invite any Dopers visiting Kansas City to drop by and see the Liberty Memorial. It’s dedicated solely to WWI’s soldiers.

Wow. Just…wow. What an incredible guy. Amazing.

Once again, to be original, wow.


Although I was a little surprised to see that he had met Sarah Bernhardt. If I recall her history correctly, by the time he met her, she had already lost a leg.

She would definitely be one of the past actresses I’d most like to meet (the number of legs wouldn’t matter).

I’ve often thought it would be so cool to have been born in the late 1800s. My grandmother saw covered wagons and men walk on the moon – all in the same lifetime. The speed at which civilization developed (and deteriorated!) is just mind-boggling.

It’s also a wonderful place to get cruised, if your into that sort of thing.

I wonder how many WWI vets are left out there?

That’s kinda died down over the years–in fact, I’m not even sure it’s happening anymore.

But hey, there are consequences from making a memorial look like a giant schlong.

I visited it in 1990, and no one expressed any interest in me (though I’ve always been pretty oblivious to such things).

I thought it was a fascinating place. There was an imposing creepiness to the place – something about the Egyptian themed art deco monuments gave it an almost Lovecraftian feel – huge, streamlined sphinxes covering their faces with their wings… An enormous bas relief (400 feet long, per the site) with marching soldiers and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…

Two Egyptian temple structures flanking the tower house museums. One had exhibits of weapons and uniforms, and a walk-through trench environment. The other had more formal exhibits, like a mural depicting soldiers of all the Allied armies, and felt more like a museum in the 1920s probably felt. I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Kansas City.

And a salute in memoriam to the remarkable Mr. Lewis.

I have an aunt that is nearly 100 years old, and the conversations we have never cease to amaze me. She’s still very sharp mentally, and is full of stories about a world that we in the early part of the 21st Century will never know. Automobiles were a rarity, the airplane was brand new, and, at least here in VA, the Civil War was still a very real memory and still having a huge effect on life.

She told me once that my grandfather and her mother and siblings moved from Fredericksburg to Washington, DC in the early years of the 20th Century so that my grandfather could get work. I asked her about it and asked how they made the trip. She didn’t understand the question and I asked, “How did you get there - that’s about 50 miles.” “We walked, of course” was her answer. “Daddy loaded up the wagon with everything we could carry, Mama and the kids sat in the wagon, and Daddy walked.” There was no money for a train, so they walked. Today, I could make the trip in less than 30 minutes. Like the gentleman in the OP, she’s seen a tremendous amount, lived through a tremendous amount, and is a fascinating woman.

If you get the chance, sit down for a few minutes with an elderly person and ask them about their lives. They’ll appreciate the interest and interaction, and you’ll be the richer for the experience, too.

Maniac! Get a lot of tickets, do ya? :smiley:

[minor hijack] It’s now hard to understand that people actually walked alongside an ox drawn wagon all the way from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA. [minor hijack]

To draw a fuller picture of the late Mr. Lewis:

I see that Myer Lewis was a real Cockney: born in the Mile End Road, London, in 1899.

When he joined the Canadian Army Service Corps in Ottawa, Ontario on May 15, 1918, he was 19 years and 3 month old, and was described as having a “fresh” complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was 5 foot 9 inches tall, and 125 pounds.

His only distinguishing marks were a scar on the back of his left hand (perhaps a result of his work, a “chauffeur/machinist”) , and two moles, one in the centre of his back, and one on the left side of his face.

All this is from the Public Archives Canada website, Canadian Expeditionary Force attestation papers online:


Actually, I can only make it in under half an hour if the traffic at Springfield is accomodating and VDOT hasn’t closed every lane down.

My grandfather and his brothers grew up on a farm. Every Saturday, after working all day (and “working all day” on a WWI era farm meant exactly that) they would put on the best clothes and walk into town to go to a dance. The town was seven miles away. They’d dance with the ladies for a few hours and then walk seven miles back home.

I fondly recall one conversation with an old timer and I thought it was facinating how he told me that everyone would run outside when they heard a plane fly over the town. I mean the entire town would be outside looking up at some bi-plane passing above them.

My grandfather who passed away just this spring told of running around as a kid saying, “Vote for Roosevelt!”

He meant Teddy. It was the 1912 election, when Teddy split the Republican vote and put Wilson in the White House.

I hope that his dictionary from his childhood is still around. It had an entry for “flying machine”.

It’s sooo big and it’s circumsized, too!

Surviving Canadian Vets and their stories.

Thank you Gentlemen for everything.

Alice Strikes
My apologies, madam, for overlooking you.

You know, dopers, I googled one of the war vets names and found him through the wonders of the web. Whilst this is a year old article, sending a card to these men and woman would probably make their day. If this is …a breach of TOS, then please, mods, please delete.

From the same site… apparently they have been able to track down 16 survivors of the 660,000 Canadians who enlisted

The trenches of WWI are probably one of the worst place ever created by human beings.