Great war veteran Allingham dies at 113

Henry Allingham, the oldest surviving British serviceman from the First World War, died today at the age of 113, his care home said.





Mr Allingham served with the Royal Naval Air Service during the Great War, later transferring to the Royal Air Force and serving at Ypres.



"Everybody at St Dunstan's is saddened by Henry's loss and our sympathy goes out to his family," said Robert Leader, chief executive of St Dunstan's care home in Ovingdean, near Brighton, East Sussex.

Mr Leader 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."



A funeral will take place later this month at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton.



Mr Allingham had five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.



He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in September 1915 before transferring to the RAF in April 1918 and was the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland.

Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said: "I am greatly saddened to hear of the death of Henry Allingham.

"For one of his age, his vigour for life was extraordinary.



"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. My thoughts are with his family."

Mr Allingham left a legacy of memories to the nation, one of his friends said today.

Dennis Goodwin, from the First World War Veterans' Association, said: "He left quite a legacy to the nation of memories of what it was like to have been in the First World War."



Mr Goodwin told BBC News that Mr Allingham's longevity could be put down to his being "essentially his own man".



Helen Emmerson, the manager of the care home where he spent his last years, said he had been determined to tell the world about his experiences despite his age.



She said: "I think particularly over the last six to nine months definitely he was finding it more and more difficult due to his advancing age.



"He had such strength and such strength of character. He wanted to get out there and spread the word."



She told Sky News: "He was tireless in his effort to get the word out there."



Mr Allingham became the world's oldest man in June.



Guinness World Records confirmed his title after the previous holder, Tomoji Tanabe, died aged 113.

Mr Goodwin, who was a close friend of Mr Allingham, said he was one of an "extremely unique and special generation of people".

"Not only did they survive the most horrific war of humanity but they had a new life to begin afterwards in an era of depression, and they did it admirably.



"I'm one of the products of that generation and I think my generation and other generation afterwards should remember that; it's a legacy they should create and keep in their memories."



Mr Goodwin, who was a regular visitor to Mr Allingham at St Dunstan's, described him as "an exceptionally good friend".



He added: "He was almost a surrogate father to me, we shared life together."



Describing the last few months of his life, he said: "He wasn't in the best of health. He wasn't eating.



"He often said to me he'd love to eat something good and have a drink like the old times but his tastebuds had gone, and I think it really frustrated him."

Mr Allingham's death means that Harry Patch, 111, the last survivor of the First World War trenches, is now Britain's oldest man. It is not yet known if he also now takes on Mr Allingham's title of world's oldest man.

Mr Patch, known as the Last Tommy, is Britain's last living soldier to have fought in the mud-soaked battle of Passchendaele in 1917 in which more than 70,000 British troops died.



He served as Lewis gunner with the 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and now lives at a residential home in Somerset.



His recipe for a long life is in marked contrast to Mr Allingham's, who once put his longevity down to "cigarettes, whisky, and wild, wild women".



Mr Patch often said: "I neither smoke, drink nor gamble. Three sins - leave them alone."



A third known Great War survivor, Claude Choules, 108, who served with the Royal Navy, now lives in Australia. He born in Worcestershire.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash