Royal tribute to 'historic treasure'

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The Independent Online

Henry Allingham, who died today aged 113, was described by the Prince of Wales as "one of our nation's historic treasures" in a tribute to him contained in the war veteran's autobiography.

Charles, who met Mr Allingham on several occasions, said he was a remarkable link to Britain's past who should be cherished while he was still alive and able to re-tell his life story spanning three centuries.

Writing the foreword to Mr Allingham's autobiography, Kitchener's Last Volunteer, published in 2008, the Prince paid tribute to him for not only wanting people to remember past sacrifices but also his message of peace and reconciliation.

He wrote: "His life has encapsulated mankind's prolific and speedy acceleration into the modern era as we know it.

"Henry was born before the age of modern politics, transport, communication, healthcare, monetary systems, the media and, of course, global consumerism that drives our lives today."

Charles said Mr Allingham fought on land, at sea and in the air for his country, and lost many comrades in the First World War, nearly dying himself on the Western Front.

Yet he added that he lived to tell the tale while millions perished and went on to recount his story to thousands of young people each year to help their understanding of the Great War.

The Prince wrote: "He does not want modern society to forget what his generation gave for our futures but, equally, the message of peace and reconciliation is one that he desires to convey above all else.

"Henry Allingham is a living piece of our British history, a link to our past whom we should cherish while he is still alive and able to re-tell his astonishing story.

"He has witnessed so much of our history including the sinking of the Titanic, the Great War, the Depression, the Second World War and the building of the Welfare State - taking in six of my forebears, as well as 21 prime ministers."

He went on: "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."