Harry, probably the oldest living airman in the world

Harry with his birthday card from the Queen.
Harry with his birthday card from the Queen.

A 100-year-old RAF war veteran is believed to be the oldest living airman in the world.

Harry Lewis, who celebrated his milestone birthday with friends and family, received a letter in the run-up to the party from the RAF News claiming he is believed to be the oldest living airman in the UK, if not the world.

The dad-of-two served in the RAF throughout the Second World War and was posted in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Modest Harry looks back on the time as a “necessary evil” and says it was his duty to go and fight for the country.

He did admit to feeling “slightly” proud when he received a letter posted on May 12 and added: “It was part of every young man’s life to go and serve his country in that time. I got the call in about 1940 and served throughout the war. I can’t remember too much about the war itself. I wasn’t overly pleased to be part of it. It was my duty.”

Harry, who was born and lived in Hartlepool for 92 years, said there is no real secret to such a long and healthy life. But he does enjoy a daily tipple of whisky.

Before and after his time in the RAF, Harryworked 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.

One of three children, Harry was a regular at York Road Methodist Church where he met Martha Ward, who he married when he was 26. Martha died in 1990.

Harry played for Hartlepool Co-op’s football and cricket teams and is also a keen Hartlepool United fan, although he cannot get to the games now.

Surrounded by birthday cards and good wishes from his friends and family, the dad of Stan and Martyn, who also has three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, said: “To be honest I don’t think it’s a really big deal reaching 100. I wouldn’t say I felt particularly proud, it’s just another day to me. I don’t think there is a secret to having a long life. I have kept fit by playing lots of sport and like a touch of whisky, that’s about it.”

Harry now lives in a residential home in Redcar after leaving Hartlepool about eight years ago. Despite his age, he said his love of sport will always remain.

Harry added: “I like to play dominoes. I’m still very competitive and like to win.”