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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
WWI veteran receives new honour
Henry Allingham after receiving the Fleet Air Arm honour
Henry Allingham was 18 when World War I began in 1914
A 109-year-old veteran of World War I has been honoured for his role in the conflict by being welcomed into a military association.

Henry Allingham, from Eastbourne, in East Sussex, was given honorary membership of the Fleet Air Arm Association on Thursday.

During a ceremony in Brighton, at which he was awarded a lapel pin, he said he had "mixed feelings" about the event.

He said: "It revives a lot of things I would like to forget, but never will."

Mr Allingham, who in 2003 received France's highest military award the Legion d'Honneur, said: "I feel just respectful to the men I know who have given so much on my behalf and yours.

"I didn't want to do it (fight) but you got on with it and I made it."

Framed certificate

Mr Allingham grew up in Clapton, east London, and volunteered for service at the age of 18 when World War I broke out.

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a mechanic in 1915 before transferring to the newly-formed Royal Air Force in 1918.

He celebrated his 109th birthday in June, and is thought to be one of about only 20 surviving servicemen from World War I after seeing action in Ypres and at the Somme.

Thursday's ceremony took place at St Dunstan's, a training and rehabilitation centre for former servicemen in Brighton.

Cigarettes and whisky

Patron of the Fleet Air Arm Association, Admiral Sir Raymond Lygo, told Mr Allingham as he presented him with the lapel pin and a framed certificate of membership that it was important "to honour our veterans".

"We owe them an awful lot... we are lucky and it's thanks to people like Henry," he said.

Mr Allingham is partially deaf and has failing eyesight, but during the ceremony managed to joke about his age.

He said his secret was cigarettes and whisky.

"I have just enjoyed life... I have a good sense of humour. Accept and be happy. If you don't you're miserable," he said.

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