Henry Allingham: oldest surviving veteran of The Great War
At the ripe old age of 112 Britain’s oldest living man Henry Allingham was made an Honorary Freeman of the city of Brighton and Hove at a ceremony held on April 30th 2009. The award of the title of Honorary Freeman requires a special resolution of the council, and two thirds of the members must vote in favour. Brighton and Hove City Council leader Mary Mears led the members of the council in voting for the award to be authorised “in grateful recognition of his exceptional services during both World Wars and his work to ensure future generations do not forget the debt owed to all those who gave their lives to ensure freedom for all” at a meeting earlier in the day; the vote was unanimous.
Certificate presented by the mayor
Mr. Allingham received the award from the mayor of Brighton and Hove, Garry Peltzer Dunn who presented him with a framed certificate in the packed council chamber. Mr. Allingham also took tea in the mayor’s parlour and posed for the press and television reporters at the Town Hall. In addition to being Britain’s oldest man, Henry is also he oldest surviving member of any of the British Armed Forces. He is also the oldest surviving veteran of the First World War, the oldest Royal Navy veteran and the last surviving founding member of the Royal Air Force. He is one of only two men left who served in the Great War.
Born before aeroplanes invented
Henry was born on June 6th 1896 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, and seven years before the Wright brothers made their first aeroplane flight. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in September 1915 and saw action during the battle of Jutland, and then ashore in France while attached to the Royal Flying Corp in the Ypres and the Somme. During World War Two Henry worked for the Admiralty on combating magnetic mines. Henry now lives at the St Dunstan’s residential care centre for blind ex-servicemen and women in Ovingdean.