World War One Vet Celebrates 113th Birthday
8:01pm UK, Saturday June 06, 2009
The oldest survivor of the First World War, Henry Allingham, has celebrated his 113th birthday with a party organised by the Royal Navy.
Henry Allingham is presented with his 113th birthday cake
Europe's oldest man also holds the record as the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, the last surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service and the last surviving founding member of the Royal Air Force.
The Royal Navy and the RAF take it in turns to host Mr Allingham's party and this year it is was held at HMS President, a building overlooking the River Thames, near London's Tower Bridge.
Mr Allingham was joined family members and representatives of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for the party in his honour.
His birthday marks another landmark for a man whose life has spanned three centuries and six monarchs.
After being given a warm welcome by generations of his family, he posed for photographers and declared: "It's wonderful, I never expected this honour."
As he sat outside in his wheelchair, a Mark 8 Royal Navy Lynx helicopter flew overhead bearing a white ensign.
A birthday cake and card signed by the First Sea Lord was then delivered to Mr Allingham at the dockside by fast-raiding craft of the Royal Marines.
Before cutting his cake, Mr Allingham said: "You are all so kind to me, I wish you all well."
Asked the secret of his long life, he added: "I don't know, but I would say be as good as you possibly can."
Paying tribute to him, Admiral Charlier said: "It is an absolute privilege to host this event. This year is the centenary of naval aviation and yet Henry goes back way before that.