Sunday, 26 July 2009

Henry and Harry

I was talking to someone only a few days ago about whether Henry Allingham should be given a state funeral. The consensus was yes, it would be a great tribute, but we wondered whether that would be seen as something of a snub to Harry Patch, the only remaining living veteran of World War One? Sadly, events have overtaken us and Harry has died in the same week as Henry. I hope we do something special to commemorate them, and the contribution they both made. I don't know whether that should be a state funeral - and I guess that in no small part depends on what the respective families' wishes are - or a memorial service, or even a monument to the two men, but like I said, I hope it's special. They deserve it.

My own grandfather served in the navy as a very young man at the end of the Second World War. He told me once how every ship in his fleet was destroyed apart from the one he was on, somewhere out in the Atlantic. It's hard to imagine my 17 year old nephew in that situation (and my grandfather was only five feet tall too!). My grandfather is now in his eighties. It's strange to think that by the time he did his National Service, Harry and Henry were already middle-aged.

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