Europe's Oldest Man Celebrates 112th Birthday

World | June 6, 2008, Friday // 00:00

The oldest man in Europe and First World War veteran, Henry William Allingham, celebrates Friday his 112th birthday by watching a fly-past of vintage aircraft, guardian.co.uk reported.

The centenarian will be the guest of honour at a VIP lunch at RAF College Cranwell, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Later, forty Cranwell Primary School pupils will present him with a birthday cake.

Allingham plans to spend the biggest part of the day with some of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, coming from America.

"I'm not the kid I used to be, but I still get around. You make your own happiness, whatever age you are. Seeing the funny side of life is useful, and I've always had a sense of humour. People ask me, what's the secret of a long life? I don't know," he shared.

Allingham, who is the only surviving founder member of the RAF, was involved in the greatest naval clash of the First World War, the Battle of Jutland, and in 1917 was posted to France to service and rescue aircraft that crashed behind the trenches at Ypres and the Somme.

At present, he attends remembrance events at home and abroad, gives interviews to the media, visits schools to talk to children at least 100 years his junior and has just completed an autobiography, which is to be published in October.

Allingham remains in good health and lives at St Dunstan's home for blind veterans in Brighton.

It is thought the only man in the world who is older is Tomoji Tanabe of Japan, who turns 113 in September. He says that abstaining from alcohol has kept him healthy. Allingham, with a twinkle in his eye, has always attributed his own longevity to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".

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