Kitchener's Last Volunteer : The Life of Henry Allingham, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Great War, Paperback Book

Kitchener's Last Volunteer : The Life of Henry Allingham, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Great War Paperback

4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Henry Allingham is the last British serviceman alive to have volunteered for active duty in the First World War and is one of very few people who can directly recall the horror of that conflict.

In Kitchener's Last Volunteer, he vividly recaptures how life was lived in the Edwardian era and how it was altered irrevocably by the slaughter of millions of men in the Great War, and by the subsequent coming of the modern age. Henry is unique in that he saw action on land, sea and in the air with the British Naval Air Service.

He was present at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 with the British Grand Fleet and went on to serve on the Western Front.

He befriended several of the young pilots who would lose their lives, and he himself suffered the privations of the front line under fire. In recent years, Henry was given the opportunity to tell his remarkable story to a wider audience through a BBC documentary, and he has since become a hero to many, meeting royalty and having many honours bestowed upon him. This is the touching story of an ordinary man's extraordinary life - one who has outlived six monarchs and twenty-one prime ministers, and who represents a last link to a vital point in our nation's history.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages, 1 x 16pp b/w
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9781845964832

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A good read. Henry was until his death in July 09, Britains oldest man. The book is very simply written, but contains many interesting memories of the early days of flight, cars restricted to 4mph and the sailing of the Titanic

Review by

A marvellous and moving account of this wonderful and yet also ordinary man. I bought this book on 18 July, the day he died aged 113 years and about six weeks, it having been on my wishlists for a year or so. Henry's positive outlook on life and his basic optimism about human nature come through clearly here, as opposed to the somewhat bitter undercurrent in Harry Patch's book. The interludes by Dennis Goodwin on concurrent events and developments at the appropriate stages in Henry's life are mostly useful, though occasionally intrusive and a little over long. There are also occasional inconsistencies in the cited figures for numbers of surviving veterans and the odd factual error, e.g. date of Harold Wilson's becoming PM inaccurately stated as 1968.

Review by

Readers hoping that this novel is an account of the authors experiences of the First World War are likely to be disappointed by this short book. Those events cover rather less than half the pages. Rather, this is a brief account of the life of Henry Allingham, who despite an unusually wide breadth of experiences it the 1914-18 conflict (he witnessed the Battle of Jutland and later became part of the embryonic RAF), really became celebrated because of his extraordinary age, living to 112 and becoming Britain's oldest man in the process. Much of the book is a description of how he enjoyed, and adjusted to, the renown in which he was held in the last years of his remarkable life. It is an endearing tale, and Allingham's strength of personality, his thirst for knowledge and his interest in progress and the future shine though. You can't help wonder whether it was those character traits that contributed to his longevity.

Also by Dennis Goodwin