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Redcar RAF airman dies at 101
2:00pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
A WAR veteran believed to be the oldest surviving RAF airman in the UK has died at the age of 101.
Great-grandfather Harry Lewis, who lived in Redcar, was also understood to be one of the oldest former RAF airmen in the world.
He served in the RAF on radar units for six-and-a-half years, leaving the service at the end of the Second World War.
He was born in West Hartlepool on May 14, 1911 - the year in which King George V was crowned.
He returned to his job after the war, working for the Co-operative Insurance Society in Hartlepool for 41 years, retiring in 1976.
He was married to Martha for 53 years and they had two sons, Stan and Martyn.
Harry also had three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Interviewed by RAF News after he turned 100, Harry said: "If I am the oldest living airman in the country I must be a lucky bugger."
Son Martyn Lewis, 66, said: "His country called him and he played his part. He had a good innings.
"He was a fun-loving person with a twinkle in his eye,” he added. “He took life quite easily. He was never a complainer, nothing was a problem."
"Just in the last three weeks he went down. We all look on it as a kind of blessing. He had a marvellous life.
"There was so much love within the family, he was a big part of that. He was very well loved."
The avid Hartlepool United supporter he was renowned for his skills at football and cricket in his youth.
Harry Lewis thought his love of sport helped contribute to his longevity - although a regular tot of whisky didn't seem to do him any harm.
He attributed his long life to 'a pleasant attitude, interest in sport and a regular glass of whisky'.
He remained in Hartlepool until he was in his 90s but in recent years had lived at Roseberry Court care home in Redcar.
Family and friends said their final farewells at his funeral at Stranton Grange Cemetery in Hartlepool.