Oldest man marks 111th birthday

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Britain's oldest man was honoured with an RAF flypast and lunch aboard HMS Victory on his 111th birthday.

A Royal Marines band also serenaded Henry Allingham, one of only three known UK survivors from World War I, during the celebrations in Portsmouth.

When asked how it felt to turn 111, he said he was "pleased to be seeing another tomorrow".

And talking about the lessons he had learnt from World War I, the Sussex man said: "Hear all, see all and say nowt."

He said: "We had a job to do and we didn't give much thought to what was going on about us.

"We had a job to do, and did it, and it was concentrating on that that got us through the war."

Mr Allingham, who has five grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren, some of whom were at the party, is the last founder member of the RAF and the sole survivor of the Battle of Jutland.

He said being 111 was "just the same as it was as at any age".

"It's no different. I'm happy to be alive and I'm looking forward to the celebrations."

Dignitaries who shared the celebratory lunch with Mr Allingham included the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Adrian Johns, and Veterans' Minister Derek Twigg.

On Tuesday, Surrey County Cricket Club threw a party for Mr Allingham, a keen cricket fan, at The Oval.

'Humour and acumen'

His close friend, Dennis Goodwin, founder of the World War Veterans' Association, said Mr Allingham was a man who "believes in doing things properly", and "straight talking".

He said: "He's getting a bit slower now but people remark how his memory and vocal cords improve as a day's engagement goes on.

"He's conscious of what's going on about him, he can contribute to the event himself and sit back and enjoy it.

"The senses are deteriorating, like smell and taste, but he still has humour and acumen."

Until last year, Mr Allingham lived an independent life in Eastbourne, but when his eyesight began to deteriorate, he moved to St Dunstan's care home for blind ex-service personnel near Brighton.

His accolades include the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the Legion d'honneur, France's highest military honour.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Sussex | Oldest man marks 111th birthday
he was 4 yrs old at the end of the 19th century, he could even have recollections of those times - to have lived through 3 centuries and during a time of Man's greatest technological upheavals, from horse-drawn carriage to landing on the moon, he's seen some changes.
Good for him. I bet the hard thing is seeing your kids die before you. That's something I don't want to see.

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