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Imbued with the unquestioning patriotism that caused so many young Canadians to sign up for a far-off war they had no idea was a living hell, Percy Dwight Wilson was determined to fight for King and Country.

The fired-up farm boy from the Ontario hamlet of Vienna was so eager, in fact, that he signed on at the tender age of 15, a full three years shy of the legal minimum.

Lest recruiters think he was too young, Mr. Wilson fudged his age by a whole year. He told them he was 16.

In 1916, faced with soaring casualty rates for each meagre metre of territory won and lost, that was good enough for the Canadian army.

The youngster was shipped overseas as a bugler for the Toronto-based 69th Artillery Battery, entertaining the other troops on board with his rich singing voice between bouts of seasickness.

On arrival in England, Mr. Wilson's youth was quickly discovered and he never came close to the battlefield, before being returned to Canada in 1917.

But Dwight Wilson was a determined young man. He enlisted again, winding up once more at Camp Petawawa for military training.

The war ended before Mr. Wilson got a second chance to head overseas.

Yet the spirit of patriotism never left him. Shortly after the Second World War began, the Bell Telephone employee enlisted for a third time.

Instead of being too young, Mr. Wilson was now too old, and he spent the second war of his long lifetime as a captain in the Perth County Reserves.

Perhaps because he did not see combat, Mr. Wilson has not opened up much about his First World War experience, although his son Paul recalls an unexploded German artillery shell from those far off days was used as a doorstop in the family home for years.

"All his life, he's been a good guy," Paul Wilson said, simply. "I'm very proud of him."

Asked why his dad tried so many times to sign up for war, the younger Mr. Wilson said: "The only thing he ever told me is that he felt it was his duty." He said his father, soon to be 106, is well aware of his status as one of the country's three surviving veterans of the so-called Great War, and relishes it, particularly since Veterans Affairs was unaware of his existence on the diminishing list until three years ago.

"Sometimes he gets carried away by all the attention, but he likes it," Paul Wilson said. "He knows he's very fortunate to be around."

Fittingly, the life-long patriot will lay the wreath today at Remembrance Day ceremonies at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where he resides.

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