LONDON (Reuters) – Three of the last surviving members of British forces who served in World War One laid wreaths in memory of their fallen colleagues in London on Tuesday to mark the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day.
The three men, all born during the reign of Queen Victoria, joined other service personnel at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to record the day peace returned in 1918 after four years of war that left 10 million dead on all sides.
Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108, represented the armed services to which they belonged.
Allingham was present for the Royal Air Force, Patch for the Army and Stone for the Royal Navy.
The three, all in wheelchairs, carried wreaths which were laid at the foot of the white stone memorial before a two minute silence at 11 a.m.
Some reminiscences by Mr. Allingham can be found here:
They were firing flares into the air – anything that went bang into the air. “I crept off into a corner somewhere and got a good night’s sleep for the first time in years.” He maintained that he was one of the lucky ones who survived. Aged 112 he is now Britain’s oldest person and, despite limited hearing and sight, he has dedicated his last years to telling the story of what he saw as a young man. “You try to forget, you want to forget, but you couldn’t forget,” he said. “Those men must not be forgotten ever. They sacrificed everything on my behalf, and your behalf as well.”
…Mr Allingham remains blunt about his future and says candidly that he cannot expect to go on forever. “I mean at this age… I’ve got to give way some way,” he said. He cannot explain the secrets behind his long life – but has said it could have something to do with “whisky, and wild, wild women”.
112. What a wonderful man. Words fail me.
And, as always on this day, this.