World's oldest man dies at 113

Henry Allingham. AP

Born in 1896 to an ironmonger’s wife in a corner of north-east London, the veteran, whose life spanned three centuries and six monarchs, was 67 when John F Kennedy was assassinated and 73 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Allingham was 14 when the war broke out. His mother begged him not to join the military, but a year after her death in 1915 he signed up.

The teenager could not have guessed he would become a symbol of the sacrifice of a generation. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving founder member of the RAF.
When asked recently how he had lived so long, Allingham said: “I don’t know if there is a secret, but keeping within your capacity is vital. I have 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.”

It was his experiences during the war that defined the man, but for more than 80 years he refused to speak about it. After the war, Allingham went into the motor industry, eventually joining the design department at Ford before retiring in 1961.

He and his wife, Dorothy, were together for more than 50 years. “I have ever kissed only one girl: my Dorothy,” he said. “We met in 1915 and married in 1918. She died in 1970. ”
Allingham leaves a family that includes five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild. Until the end of his life, Allingham’s memory was sharp.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry