Oldest Living Man-world record set by Henry
UK -- British World War I veteran Henry Allingham celebrated
his 113th birthday June 6 and has become the the world's
oldest living man after the previous holder of the
title, Tomoji Tanabe, died in his sleep in southern Japan
earlier Friday at the age of 113.
Photo: The Royal Navy hosted a birthday
party on the HMS President in London for his family, close
friends and members of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force
earlier this month./ AFP (enlarge
Proving age had not dimmed his sense
of humour, he once put his longevity down to “cigarettes,
whisky and wild, wild women”. Allingham joined the Royal Naval Air Service
— precursor to the Royal Air Force — in 1915, and a year later
took part in the Battle of Jutland, the war's largest naval
battle. During World War II he worked on measures to counter
Mr Allingham had a happy marriage. He and
his wife Dorothy were together for more than 50 years, heading
a family that now includes his first great-great-great-grandchild.
Most of his family now live in the United States
but his nephew Ronald Cator, 74, lives in Acle, Norfolk Mr
Cator said: "It's fantastic news. He is very frail now but
I'm sure he'll be very pleased to hear it. "We are very proud
"It's staggering. He (Allingham) is philosophical.
He will take it in his stride, like he does everything else,"
said Allingham's spokesman, Dennis Goodwin.
"He withdraws in himself and he chews it over
like he does all the things he has done in his life. That's
his secret I think".
Allingham has lived in three different centuries,
seen six British monarchs on the throne, and has five grandchildren,
12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one
An air force mechanic, he saw active service in
the Battle of Jutland in World War I and was one of the founding
members of the Royal Air Force. He is one of only two surviving
veterans in Britain of the 1914-18 conflict.
“War’s stupid,” he told the BBC. “Nobody
wins. You might as well talk first, you have to talk last
After the war he went into the motor industry,
eventually joining the design department at Ford before retiring
Events he has lived through include the death
of Queen Victoria in 1901, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912,
the invention of television by John Logie Baird in the 1920s
and the Wall Street crash of 1929.
In 1911, when he was a teenage apprentice, there
were an estimated 100 centenarians in Britain. In 2006, there
The world record falls in an eventful year
for Henry, who lives at St Dunstan's care home in Ovingdean,
near Brighton. St Dunstan's chief Robert Leader said: "We
are proud to care for this remarkable man."
In March, he was awarded France's Legion d'Honneur
award -- and voiced hope for the end of military conflict.
"There will be no more wars, I hope. There will be one big
nation," he said. "It's a tragedy you can never forget."
Photo: British World War One veteran
Henry Allingham aged 112 salutes as he listens to a speech
at his ceremony, where he received the Legion of Honour medal
by Ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne at the French embassy
in London/ REUTERS/ Katie Collins/Pool (enlarge
He received a doctorate in engineering from Southampton
Solent University and was made an honorary freeman of Brighton
Allingham, who lives in a care home for
blind former armed services staff near Brighton, on the southern
English coast, is one of three surviving Britons from World
War I. Another, Harry Patch, was also awarded the Legion d'Honneur
He celebrated his 111th birthday on Wednesday.
The other survivor, 107-year-old Claude Choules, now lives
Tomoji Tanabe, the previous world's oldest man,
died in his sleep from heart failure at his home in southern
Japan. He had eight children - five sons and three daughters.
Mr Tanabe was certified by the Guinness
Book of World Records as the world's oldest man when he was
111 years old.
When asked how he had lived so long, Mr Allingham,
who holds the Légion d’Honneur, said: “I don’t know if there
is a secret, but keeping within your capacity is vital. I’ve
had two major breakdowns, one during the war and one after
but both when I was trying to do the work of three men. “The
trick is to look after yourself and always know your limitations.”
Allingham joined activities involving other war
veterans after he met Dennis Goodwin, an independent
inspector for residential care homes who organized trips for
veterans who wanted to return to the continent where they
Goodwin encouraged Allingham to share his
experiences. He soon became one of the nation's most outspoken
veterans and has long encouraged everyone to remember the
sacrifices of those who died.
He co-wrote an autobiography with Goodwin, "Kitchener's
Last Volunteer," — a reference to Britain's war secretary
who rallied men to the cause — and was made an Officer of
France's Legion of Honor.