FIRST World War veteran Henry Allingham is officially the world's oldest man – but the news may take some time to sink in.
Mr Allingham, 113, was named by Guinness World Records as the oldest man on the planet following the death in Japan yesterday of the previous holder of the title.
A spokeswoman for St Dunstan's care home for blind ex– service personnel in Ovingdean, near Brighton, where Mr Allingham has lived since 2005, said he spent most of the day sleeping, having had a busy few weeks.
She said: "He was told this morning, but he didn't really say anything. The news probably needs a while to sink in, and he is very hard of hearing so he may not have fully understood. Generally though, his health is very good. He is very active still for his age."
Mr Allingham, one of only two surviving First World War veterans in the UK and the last surviving founder member of the RAF, celebrated his 113th birthday on 6 June with a party on board HMS President in London.
The Air Mechanic First Class once attributed his grand age to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".
His spokesman, Dennis Goodwin, said: "It's staggering. Henry is philosophical. He will take it in his stride, like he does everything else."
Tomoji Tanabe, previously the world's oldest man, died in his sleep at his home in southern Japan yesterday at the age of 113.
It has already been a remarkable year for Mr Allingham, who is the sole survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland.
In March he received an upgraded Legion d'Honneur from the French ambassador in London and was made the first honorary lifetime member of the Royal Naval Association.
He was also presented with a doctorate in engineering from Southampton Solent University and was made an honorary freeman of his home city of Brighton and Hove in April.
Mr Allingham, whose life has spanned three centuries and six monarchs, has five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great-grandchildren and a great-great-great-grandchild.
Mr Goodwin said: "I was with him just yesterday and, ironically enough, we were talking about him popping his clogs.
"He's getting a little bit frail now; his taste is non-existent so he can't enjoy eating or drinking. He doesn't have as much strength as before, but he is still willing. He still wants to go out."
The oldest person in the world is Gertrude Baines, 115, of the United States, according to Guinness World Records.
• A 102-year-old woman, who is this year's oldest entrant in Cancer Research UK's Race For Life, yesterday congratulated Mr Allingham on becoming the world's oldest man.
Winnie Hudson, of Bedale, North Yorkshire, said it was "marvellous" that Mr Allingham had taken the title at the age of 113. But she added she would not want to live to be that age, while her 100-year-old friend, Margaret Hill, joked that Mr Allingham was "too old" for her.
The women, who are both taking part in the 5km race in York this month, were speaking from the garden of their residential home.
Mrs Hudson said: "It's a marvellous age, isn't it? I wouldn't mind living to that age if I could be as I am now, but I don't think I'd want to."
Mrs Hill joked that she was looking for a younger man than Mr Allingham.
She said: "Oh, I don't want him. My ideal age is 29 – just a little bit older than me. I like them with a bit of experience."
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HENRY ALLINGHAM
1901: Queen Victoria dies.
1912: Titanic sinks.
1919: End of Spanish flu pandemic, which killed up to 100 million people.
1924: James Ramsay MacDonald becomes prime minister.
1925: John Logie Baird invents his mechanical television system.
1928: Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
1930: Planet Pluto discovered.
1940: Winston Churchill becomes prime minister.
1945: Adolf Hitler commits suicide. Atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
1946: Nazi leaders are sentenced at Nuremberg. Mr Allingham celebrates his 50th birthday.
1948: NHS launched.
1954: First successful organ transplant.
1961: East Germany begins building Berlin Wall. Mr Allingham retires, aged 65.
1963: JFK assassinated. Sir Alec Douglas-Home becomes prime minister.
1967: Floppy disk invented.
1973: Three-day working week ordered by government to save electricity.
1977: Elvis dies.
1983: First commercial mobile phones available.
1986: Chernobyl power station explodes.
1996: Dolly the sheep born. Dunblane massacre. Mr Allingham turns 100.
1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, killed in car crash.
2001: Terrorist attacks on New York World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
2009: 65th anniversary of D-Day.