One of his mottos was “be the best you can be”.

Henry Allingham, who became, briefly, the world’s oldest man and one of Sussex’s greatest treasures, certainly achieved that during his long life.

His time spanned three centuries – and six monarchs.

He had five grandchildren, 12 greatgrandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one greatgreat- great grandchild.

Despite his age, Mr Allingham continued with a relentless schedule of official ceremonies and community events to ensure no one forgot the great human tragedy he had witnessed.

He also regularly visited schools to pass his message on to children.

As the years went on his words became ever precious as fewer people were alive to tell the story.

At the time of his death he was one of only two survivors of the Great War.

The French government awarded him the rank of knight in the Legion d’Honneur in 2003 and he was promoted to the rank of officer in March.

He was also made an honorary freeman of the city of Brighton and Hove earlier this year.

The Argus launched an Honour For Henry campaign.

An open letter was sent to Gordon Brown in a final push to give Mr Allingham the recognition he deserved.

Meanwhile, those who knew Mr Allingham sent letters to the Government’s honours committee.

But nothing was done.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister released a statement.

It said: “The British Government held Henry Allingham in the highest regard and ministers had been actively considering an appropriate recognition for Henry before the sad news of his death.

“Henry was a hero to this country and, as the Prime Minister said at the weekend, a tremendous character who was an inspiration to us all.

“His service and contribution to this country will never be forgotten and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Mayor of Brighton and Hove Councillor Ann Norman said she could not understand why the Government had not acted.

She said: “It’s the moment I’ve been dreading.

I met him just a few weeks ago and took him flowers, even though I sensed he would have preferred a bottle of something instead.

“He was so frail then and I dreaded the actual event of his death.

“I just can’t understand why he was not officially recognised – especially when he supported the Government and the military so much.

We made him a freeman of Brighton and Hove a few weeks ago.

At least we got there in the end.

“I remember Henry coming to collect it and playing with the children who were there.

He had a great sense of connection with the community and a great sense of spirit.

He toured Sussex schools and gave children a rare glimpse of history.

“But I feel he needed a national honour of some kind – not for how old he was, but for the constant work he did in the community with young people when many would have just put their feet up.”

Sir Andrew Bowden, former Brighton Kemptown MP and president of Brighton and Hove Royal British Legion, wrote to the honours committee nine months ago urging them to honour Mr Allingham.

He now believes there should be a posthumous recognition.

Close friend Dennis Goodwin, said Mr Allingham, who reportedly still rode around on his mountain bike after his 100th birthday, was one of a “unique and special generation of people”.

He said: “Not only did they survive the most horrific war but they had a new life to begin afterwards in an era of depression, and they did it admirably.

“I’m one of the products of that generation and I think my generation and other generations afterwards should remember that; it’s a legacy they should create and keep in their memories.”

Mr Goodwin, who set up the First World War Veteran’s Association, described him as “an exceptionally good friend”.

He added: “He was almost a surrogate father to me.

We shared life together.”

Describing the last few months of his life, he said: “He wasn’t in the best of health.

He wasn’t eating.

“He often said to me he’d love to eat something good and have a drink like the old times but his taste buds had gone, and I think it really frustrated him.”

He agreed that not only Mr Allingham, but his whole generation, deserved more recognition.

He said: “These are the last remaining men of that generation.

What happens when they go? There should be some recognition but perhaps a special commemoration for the whole generation rather than something in the honours list.”

Mr Allingham spent his final years at St Dunstan’s care home in Ovingdean, Brighton.

St Dunstan’s chief executive Robert Leader said: “Everybody at St Dunstan’s is saddened by Henry’s loss and our sympathy goes out to his family.

“He was very active right up to his final days, having recently celebrated his 113th birthday on HMS President on the Thames surrounded by family.

“As well as possessing a great spirit of fun, he represented the last of a generation who gave a very great deal for us.

“Henry made many friends among the residents and staff at St Dunstan’s.

He was a great character and will be missed.”

Prince Charles reiterated the Queen’s comments, saying Mr Allingham belonged to that “incredible generation who did so much for their country”.

A Clarence House spokesman said: “We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he has done.”

Mr Allingham’s grandson, Tim Gray, described his grandfather as very sincere and someone who loved life.

The 53-year-old, from Michigan in the US, said: “He was always telling all these stories about the war, he wanted people to remember it.

“But he thought the ones that should really be remembered were the ones that died, not himself.”

He added that the whole family would be coming from Canada and the US for his funeral, which takes place at St Nicholas’ Church in Brighton later this month.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy said he was an inspirational character.

He said: “He left quite a legacy of memories of what it was like to have been in the First World War.”

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band said: “Henry will be remembered with great fondness.

He was an inspiration for all those serving in the Royal Navy.”

For many years Henry had been the oldest man in Europe but, for 30 days before his death, he was the oldest man in the world after Japanese Tomoji Tanabi died on June 20.

But there’s no doubt his legacy will continue to live on for many, many years to come.