TODAY we mark the passing of Philip Mayne, the last surviving First World War soldier from this region.

Mr Mayne died peacefully in his sleep at a nursing home in Richmond, North Yorkshire, aged 107. That gave him the added distinction of being the region's oldest person.

He was one of five million British men who served their country at the time of the Great War, and his death acts as a timely reminder of the horrors endured by a generation that is now all but gone.

They were unimaginable days when the chances of survival were slim, and it is right that the Government is preparing for a national memorial service when the time comes to mourn the death of the last known survivor.

There are now only three of those old soldiers still alive - Henry Allingham, 110, Harry Patch, 108, and Bill Stone, 106 - and that national day of remembrance should be made very special indeed.

It is hard not to wonder what they and their comrades might have thought about the decision to allow 15 sailors and marines, held hostage for a fortnight in Iran, to sell their stories for profit.

It is not that the ordeal of those modern-day service personnel should be belittled, but it should certainly be kept in perspective.

And those who are paid handsomely within government to make common sense decisions about what is right and wrong, should feel ashamed.