Oldest WWI veteran dies aged 113

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Henry Allingham, the world's oldest man and one of the last surviving World War I servicemen, has died at the age of 113, his care home has said.
Mr Allingham served with the Royal Naval Air Service in WWI, later transferring to the Royal Air Force at the time of its creation.
Bosses at his Brighton care home said everybody was "saddened by Henry's loss and our sympathy goes to his family".
Last month, Mr Allingham, born in 1896, became the world's oldest man.
His funeral will take place later this month at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton.
Mr Allingham, whose life has spanned three centuries and six monarchs, has five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
He joined the Royal Navy Air Service in September 1915 and served in Ypres before transferring to the RAF in April 1918.
In November last year, he took part in ceremonies to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Henry Allingham's 113th birthday celebrations in June
Speaking before events began, Mr Allingham said he couldn't forget the war even if he wanted to.
"I saw too many things I would like to forget but I never will forget them, I never can forget them," he said.
For decades, he buried his war memories, avoiding reunions and refusing to discuss the events with his family.
But, in 2005, he was persuaded to unveil an RAF memorial in France and decided it would have been disrespectful to his former comrades to refuse.
This was followed by numerous honours and accolades.
1901 - Queen Victoria dies
1914 - WWI begins
1929 - The Wall Street Crash
1945 - First atomic bomb detonated
1953 - Everest climbed for the first time
1963 - President Kennedy assassinated
1969 - Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon
1977 - Death of Elvis Presley
1989 - Fall of the Berlin Wall
1990 - Nelson Mandela freed from prison after 27 years
2008 - US elects first black president
He was given a doctorate in engineering from Southampton Solent University and was made an honorary freeman of Brighton and Hove.
He was also made an honorary member of the Royal Naval Association, received a Legion d'Honneur and published his life story.
In the foreword to Mr Allingham's autobiography, published in 2008, Prince Charles described him as "one of our nation's historic treasures".
"We should all be humbled by this quiet, genial man and his desire to extol peace and friendship to the world, despite all the horrors he witnessed at such a young and impressionable age," he wrote.
Last month, the Royal Navy hosted a 113th birthday party on HMS President in London for his family, close friends and members of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
Dennis Goodwin, founder of the First World War Veterans' Association, led the tributes to Mr Allingham, the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland and his old friend.
"Henry was truly a gentleman - his strength of character, his purpose. He left quite a legacy to the nation of memories of what it was like to have been in WWI," he said.
Veterans minister Kevan Jones said he was "greatly saddened" to hear of Mr Allingham's death.
"For one of his age, his vigour for life was extraordinary," he said.
"I was humbled to meet somebody who had led such an amazing life and we owe such a huge debt of gratitude to him and his generation."
'Great spirit'
Robert Leader, chief executive of St Dunstan's care home in Ovingdean, near Brighton, said: "He was very active right up to his final days, having recently celebrated his 113th birthday on HMS President, surrounded by family.
"As well as possessing a great spirit of fun, he represented the last of a generation who gave a very great deal for us.
"Henry made many friends among the residents and staff at St Dunstan's. He was a great character and will be missed."
Mr Allingham is survived by Harry Patch, who turned 111 last month and is now the last British survivor of WWI.


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