Veteran, 107, who didn't want to make a fuss

Apart from a studio photo of him and his two brothers in uniform, I have not managed to find out anything about my own grandfather's World War 1 service. And it's more than 50 years too late to ask him now.

Veteran Albert Edward Dye also came close to an unrecognised end, even though just before his death in September 2004 he was one of only a few UK survivors of 1914-18 combat – possibly by then the oldest at the age of 107.

Albert died at the Edwardian Care Home in Biscot Road, Luton. He was just a month short of his 108th birthday – born October 1, 1896, at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

In 1915, at the age of 19, Albert was sent to Egypt with the Army Service Corps/Royal Field Artillery. He arrived in port five days late after his ship was chased by a German submarine. He then served in Palestine until 1919.

Following the death in 1969 of his first wife Lily, whom he married in Great Yarmouth in 1923, Albert remarried in Luton in 1970. His second wife, Emily, died in June 2003, aged 90.

His son, also named Albert, and daughter-in-law Sheila also lived in Luton.

The First World War Veterans Association invited him to an annual Christmas party at St James' Palace in the presence of the Princess Royal and he was named in a list to lead the 90th anniversary commemoration at the Cenotaph in London. He declined both invitations because he “did not want to make a fuss”.

Only because Albert's 107th birthday celebration was reported in the Luton News in October 2003 did even this peephole into his WW1 past come to light when he spoke to a reporter.

As with my grandfather, I have been unable to trace Albert's military service record. Sadly about 60 per cent of records were destroyed, ironically by a German bomb in World War 2.