Friday 14 December 2018

'World's oldest rebel' Harry Leslie Smith dies aged 95

Harry Leslie Smith was a RAF veteran activist Photo: Twitter
Harry Leslie Smith was a RAF veteran activist Photo: Twitter
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Second World War veteran and left-wing political activist Harry Leslie Smith has died, his family has announced.

Posting on the 95-year-old's Twitter account, his son said: "At 3:39 this morning, my dad Harry Leslie Smith died. I am an orphan. #istandwithharry.

"My dad had been so dreadfully thirsty because he'd had nil by mouth orders for almost a week. So when he decided that the potential for full recovery was not possible. he was allowed to drink a beer. Sadly though he couldn't eat."

His family said last week he had become "critically ill" in Canada hours before he was due to fly back to the UK.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had led thousands of supporters wishing him a speedy recovery.

Mr Smith became a prominent figure after his address to the 2015 Labour conference, moving many to tears with his recollections of life and death in the UK before the existence of the NHS.

His sister died when she was 10 years old from tuberculosis, with the family unable to afford a doctor.

“We must never ever let the NHS free from our grasp because if we do your future will be my past,” he said.

He also described returning from the Second World War and voting for Clement Attlee’s Labour government in the 1945 general election.

“It was the proudest day of my life, voting for the creation of the NHS,” he said.

He remained a vocal critic of the programme of austerity implemented by the Conservative government from 2010 onwards.

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