Posted 04 June 2006 - 02:40 PM
A very brief, & basic resume of Henry Allingham's service.....
He says he had wanted to volunteer in 1914, when he was 18, but his widowed mother did not want to lose her only son, so he stayed with her, until she died in 1915, when he originally enlisted (I believe under the Derby scheme), as a dispatch rider in the army. However, he was unwilling to wait for the army to call him, so he enlisted as an air mechanic in the RNAS, originally volunteering for East Africa, meaning (as those Pals who have served, will know) that he was posted to the East Coast of England!!. He was on HMT Kingfisher, which towed seaplanes, & shadowed the fleet at Jutland, & later served in France, near St. Omer, where acted as observer/gunner on some flights & was also involved in the recovery of downed aircraft from the front. On 1st April 1918 he, like all members of the RNAS & RFC, transferred to the RAF.
After the war, he went to work for Ford, & during WW2 was involved in the development of countermeasures against magnetic mines (his was classified as a reserved occupation, so he was ineligible to enlist or be conscripted), & there is a story which tells of him answering a call during Christmas dinner & not returning home for some days.
Additionally, IIRC, he is also the last WW1 veteran to have received replacement campaign medals, after it was discovered he had been wearing those of a friend, due to the fact his own were lost when his London home was bombed during the Blitz.
Sorry if I am repeating information widely available elsewhere.....
P.S Henry Allingham is also in favour of a state funeral for the last British resident British WW1 veteran, although he has stated he doubts it will be him.