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This is a record of a eighy-year-old's participation in a battle -- the Battle of Vienna in 1683 -- from Andrew Weatcroft's The Enemy At the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe; he puts the bar up already pretty high :)

Kara Mustafa reinforced the cavalry holding the new positions by drawing off janissaries from the trenches before the city as well as the new arrivals from Hungary under the command of the eighty-year-old Ibrahim, pasha of Buda.

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Do you include irregulars (partisans, militia etc..)? –  DVK Mar 31 '13 at 17:56
    
@DVK I'd say yes. –  Drux Mar 31 '13 at 18:09
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@Anixx - David was what, 15? :) Most of those mythical heroes were fairly young. –  DVK Mar 31 '13 at 18:21
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Do you include people who weren't in battle but served on active duty (e.g. engineers)? David Laskov was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest active duty soldier (he died while on active duty, at 86). –  DVK Mar 31 '13 at 18:48
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Not really an answer to your question but at the battle of Gabiene in 316 BC Eumenes had phalangites who had been fighting for Philip II and of wich many where thus over 60 or 70. (consider them having to wear a 5m long Sarissa, a bronze buckler, a helmet and protection for the legs and body and you get the idea.) They won btw. (Eumenes did not.) –  Jeroen K Feb 8 at 9:24
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2 Answers 2

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I'd say William Hiseland, who fought in the Battle of Malplaquet at the age of 89.

The Scotsman newspaper writes about it:

At the Battle of Malplaquet, the regiment probably had the youngest and oldest participants on the battlefield. The wife of a soldier, Private McBain, handed over their three-week old baby son to him just before the battle saying she would follow the Colours no more. McBain placed the baby in his knapsack where he remained, and survived throughout the battle.

Also serving in the regiment as a soldier that day was William Hiseland, born in 1620, who, at 89, was almost certainly the oldest man on the field. Having survived the battle he lived until the age of 112, dying in 1732, as an in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, having got married at the age of 103.

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+1 and wondering what they put into the water in the 17th (and early 18th) centuries ... :) –  Drux Mar 31 '13 at 19:16
    
I am interested in knowing the bride! Was she 100 too? –  Persian Cat Mar 31 '13 at 19:49
    
All I know is that his wife passed away before he did. –  Darek Wędrychowski Mar 31 '13 at 20:42
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By making a search over some var memorial archives you can find remarkably old soldiers.

For example,

Drobyshev Illarion Pavlovich born in 1839 was killed in 1948 in combat with bandits in Tambov Oblast. HGe was deputy-commander of a company, and if the documents are correct he was 109 years old.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=9862711

Pichuzhkin Pavel Feodorovich born in 1833 was killed in 1944 near Veazma. According the documents he was 111 years old.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=261298833

Chontuvian Arony Philippovich born in 1832 deceased in 1943 of pneumonia, being a military sailor. According the documents he also was 111 years old.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=3293042

Dolgopolov Philipp Ivanovich born in 1831 was killed in 1943 in Leningrad area. He was 112 according the documents.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=261023681

Semeanin Ivan Ivanovich born in 1830 was killed in 1943 near village Scherbinka (near Novgorod area) being a private. He was 113.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=260835113

Proseanykh Illarion Kanafievich born in 1829, was killed in 1945. The cause of the death is unknown, he was a private. He was 116.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=269053989

Kovalchuk Zakhar born in 1828 died in a German POW camp in 1944, at age 116.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=78438709

Tonkikh Matvey Gordeyevich of 1828 was killed in 1943 being a private at age 115.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=260553416

Gavrilov Ivan Dmitriyevich also of 1828 was killed in 1943 at age 115.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=269058043

Zhukov Ivan Frolovich of 1827 died in German POW camp in 1945, although he was captured in 1941.

Volkovich Peter Vasilievich of 1827 was killed in 1944 in Belarus at age of 117 being a partisan.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=261841106

Some private Ivanov F.F. of 1826 was killed in 1944 near Tver at age 118.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=261447957

Timofeyev Konstantin Filippovich of 1825 died of wounds in 1944 at age 119

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=55883101

Nikorenko Pavel Denisovich of 1824 was killed in 1845 in Kuybyshev area.

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=4749823

....

There are lots of similar records, but most of them seem to be just typos.

The oldest record I found is Ivanov Vladimir Ivanovich, a warehouse guard who died in 1942 and according the documents was born in 1778!

http://obd-memorial.ru/html/info.htm?id=77640095

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+1 excellent. Thx for your effort -- I may have recognized "the" answer too early. 80 (even 89) seems quite young in comparison to some of these soldiers as recorded by your source. –  Drux Mar 31 '13 at 21:44
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@Drux I think most of them are indeed typos, and there is no possible way to reliably distinguish the typos. –  Anixx Mar 31 '13 at 22:17
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@Drux difference between Julian and Gregorian calendars was only 13 days. This could not affect year of birth more than by 1 (and even that only if the birthdate was between 1st and 13th January). –  Anixx Apr 1 '13 at 1:57
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Drobyshev was likely a typo. See discussion here –  DVK Apr 1 '13 at 2:48
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@DVK calculate yourself: according to Krivosheev's study about military losses of Russia in XX century wars, totally there were 34476,7 thousand people under rifle in the USSR (pre-war+mobilized) and 21107 thousand in Germany. Given the population figures for the USSR (190 million) and Germany (80 million) we can conclude that total people under rifle were 18% of population in the USSR and 26,4% of population in Germany. At any given point the both figures were lower of course. Link to the study: lib.ru/MEMUARY/1939-1945/KRIWOSHEEW/poteri.txt –  Anixx Apr 1 '13 at 4:29
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