Tributes paid to ‘oldest airman’

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A 101-YEAR-old RAF war veteran who was believed to be one of the oldest surviving Second World War airmen has died.

Harry Lewis passed away peacefully in the residential home where he lived.

Harry Lewis in a family snap when he was aged about 14-years-old.

Harry Lewis in a family snap when he was aged about 14-years-old.

He last appeared in the Mail to celebrate his 100th birthday.

Today, Harry’s son, Martyn Lewis paid tribute to the dad-of-two, grandad-of-three and great-grandad-of-six, describing him as a “wonderful man with a great sense of humour and a cheeky smile”.

Martyn, 66, who works in telecommunications software, said: “He led a wonderful life with wonderful memories and I was proud that he was my dad.

“He had a great sense of humour and was always one of the boys. He was fanatical about Hartlepool United and listened to the matches right up until he died.

“The girls at the residential home loved him and were all upset when he passed away.

“He always had a wink for the girls, he had beautiful blue eyes and a cheeky smile.

“I will miss him terribly.”

Martyn, a dad-of-three and grandad-of-six, would visit his dad in the Roseberry Court Residential Home, in Redcar, where his father moved to from Hartlepool nine years ago, once a fortnight.

The former pupil of Hartlepool Grammar School would take the long train trip from Greenwich, in London, where he now lives, to have a “fortnightly glass of whisky and a chat about sport and the old times” with Harry.

Harry served in the RAF throughout the Second World War as a radar mechanic and was posted in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In the run-up to his milestone 100th birthday he received a letter from the RAF News claiming he is believed to be the oldest living airman in the UK, if not the world.

Modest Harry looked back on the time as a “necessary evil” and told the Mail that it was his duty to go and fight for the country.

He was born and lived in Hartlepool for 92 years, and said there was no real secret to such a long and healthy life though he did enjoy a daily tipple.

Before and after his time in the RAF, Harry worked in insurance for the Co-op. He was born in the town’s Mainsforth Terrace on May 14, 1911, and he went to Newburn Junior School and Church Square Secondary School.

Harry played for Hartlepool Co-op’s football and cricket teams.