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4.8 out of 5 stars37
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 29 September 2008
I just love to read these accounts of the life of a true hero that has lived through numerous decades and gives us an insight into the daily lives during each era. This book also gives us a birds eye view of life in the great war. If ever there was a book that should be read by everyone then this is it.
I would also recommend Harry Patch's book,"the last fighting tommy", with equal status.
These two fine books should sit alongside each other on every bookshelf across the country to be read time and time again.
Thank you Henry for giving us this account and it is a true hero that still talks with such compassion for his lost but never forgotten colleagues. Brothers in arms has never had more meaning.
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on 1 October 2008
I've just finished reading this - a book I devoured almost without putting it down. That 112 year old can really write!

Henry Allingham is a fascinating character - the only man alive who saw the Grand Fleet steaming towards Jutland, and also the last of those who fought in the first air war in history. Mr. Allingham has a dry, self-deprecating style which is highly engaging. I was drawn into his autobiographical tale, almost as if he had been talking to me directly.

The narrative of this remarkable 112 year old is interspersed with short passages of historical scene-setting, filling in the background to Henry's story. Consequently they add rather than detract from the narrative.

The whole book is delightful - a personal narrative by an extremely personable old man. I've read several first-hand accounts by Great War veterans before, but this is in a league all of its own, both for the scope of Henry's story, and for the engaging way he tells it.

I can't recommend this book too highly.
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on 7 February 2009
I bought this book for Christmas for my Father who is 81 and has a great interest in WW1. He remembers his father who joined up the day after war broke out telling him stories of what happened to him and, also the fact that his Father suffered from nightmares about what happened right up until the day he died aged 89. My Father has told me that in his opinion this is the best book he has ever read relating to WW1 and he would highly recommend it. A very human story that brings history to life.
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on 11 November 2008
What amazes me the most about Henry Allingham's fascinating and inspiring life story is that for 30 years he lived a quiet life in his Eastbourne flat, and hadn't spoken about the War since it ended. Then, after reaching 100, his life changed completely and he's now had up to 47 event appearances in a single year. This shows astonishing flexibility and ability to change. It is a truly inspiring book. Aside from the personal aspects given to many historical events it is an account of the triumph of the human spirit. Henry is a star!
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on 15 June 2009
What was it about that generation that fought in The Great War? Henry Allingham was not the stereotypical Englishman from that period but one can imagine that his character with its charm, appreciation of value and work ethic was more commonplace than in the 'benefit' culture attitudes of contemporary Britain. Henry Allingham's life is the benchmark example to us all. The book provided an excellent description of life in a bygone age and was almost unputdownable.
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on 20 July 2009
I finished reading this marvellous book a week before Mr Allingham passed away. This man gave to much to so many, he will not be forgotton by all the school children is spoke to, nor by all those adults who were fortunate enough to meet him. Heshould be an inspiration for us all.

His passing really in the end of an era but we must never forget what his generation did for us.

May you rest in peace Mr Allingham.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Dennis Goodwin has made a fine job of telling the story of Henry Allingham - particularly impressive given that he is not a career journalist. I've also read the story of Harry Patch, which I preferred but only for the reason that Harry himself came across as an extremely interesting man and a complex character whose views made for fascinating reading.

Henry Allingham was a quiet, kind, decent man who had a very interesting wartime experience, not devoid of horror by any means, but quieter than that experienced by some. Post-war he led a relatively uneventful, comfortable middle-class life, becoming remarkable for his fitness as a centenarian - he still rode a mountain bike at 100. What made this book very enjoyable was the detailed asides of historical details that padded it out and informed - the progress of the early motor industry, the fate of Kitchener, the stories behind other centenarian veterans. Dennis Goodwin founded the First World War Veteran's Association and takes the opportunity within these pages to tell some of the stories of other centenarian veterans who were lesser known - John Oborne, Smiler Marshall and Alfred Anderson for example.

Books such as this and Harry Patch's "Last Tommy" deserve to become part of the National Curriculum. These men may have passed from us but their stories still deserve to be heard.
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on 15 September 2009
I read with delight the personal story of Henry Alliingham, the last veteran of the 1st World War. He was an ordinary 'bloke' with a mundane life after war, who only discovered his invaluable link to the past after his 100th Birthday.His story is not unique but what is , is the links to the events of the day.We learn of his lfe and alongside it , putting it into perspective, are the actual historical events of that time.For example, the effect of the Salvation Army in the East End. Who and what the Army did and why? I found it illuminating and most enjoyable.
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on 21 February 2009
Kitchener's Last Volunteer: The Life of Henry Allingham, Britain's Oldest Man and the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Great War
This is a wonderful book, detailing the life of the last WWI war veteran who, incredibly, is still with us today. The book is well written and juxtaposes Henry's stories alongside the headlines of the times so the reader gets a clear view of what was going on in Henry's world at that time. Queen Victoria was still on the throne for the first five years of his life.
The book starts with Henry's earliest memories and the fact he was orphaned at a very young age resulting in his being brought up by his grandparents. The good old Victorian class divide is very much in evidence in the book and young Henry's expectations for a career were well within the social expectations of the time. Then along came the war which changed everything and Henry, like all good patriotic boys, signed up.
What an interesting war Henry had. He was in the fledgling 'Air Force' when it was still attached to the Navy, heaving the occasional bomb over the side of the little wood and canvas planes which, with their limited fuel capacity, could only fly for a few hours at a time. He describes the awful loss of life from not knowing basic first aid like how a tourniquet could save a man's life, to how pilots frequently burned to death after bad landings.
Then Henry found himself on the Western Front, in the trenches and the absolute horror of that period is brought home by the story of him wandering into an open shell hole one dark night, the hole was full of mud, water, rats and human remains and how he panics unable to get a foothold to get out, really believing he was done for, then 'with one prodigious leap' managed to scramble up the side narrowly avoiding drowning. Henry gives us an idea of the unimaginable horror of the trenches which is further illustrated by the fact that men who had been there just didn't discuss it afterwards, he makes his point by mentioning a friend he played cards with for 7 years who he knew was also in the trenches but the subject was never ever discussed because it was so awful.
Henry is not just a stoic survivor, he has been through hell and come through it, he embraces life, has worked hard, uncomplainingly and stayed fit, even today at 112 he keeps busy meeting people. He has outlived his beloved wife and daughter and is feeling his age, but is still upbeat, very funny and with a wonderfully positive outlook. In sum, I would say this book has it all: historically its priceless, Henry not just links antiquity with today but shows us the importance of learning from our mistakes. As a survivor, his values, humour and endearing positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone and sets an example we should all learn from.
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on 16 October 2008
Kitchener's Last Volunteer relates the story of a life remarkable in so many ways. Henry Allingham, the co-author along with Dennis Goodwin, was born in 1896 and the circumstances of his early life seem remarkable from the present day - truly a very different world
This memoir focuses on his experiences during the First World War, where he served in the Royal Naval Air Service and saw action at both the Battle of Jutland and Third Ypres, and his recollections of those events are interspersed by historical notes that provide a detailed context to the personal stories.
Beyond the First World War the book also deals with the author's experiences of the Great Depression, the Second World War and life in 20th-century Britain, until the final chapters describe how the author came to terms with his of war service and became active in commemoration and education.
What really comes through form the book is the sheer breadth of Henry Allingham's life and experiences and it is a fascinating read and highly recommended.
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