Excitement of 'hairy' World War Two missions the secret to reaching 100, veteran says

  • David Berry talks to ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson about reaching the age of 100

A military veteran who has just celebrated his 100th birthday says that the "excitement" of flying dangerous missions during World War Two is one of the secrets to his longevity.

David Berry, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was 16 when the war began and went on to serve in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

His assignments led to him hunting German U-boats by flying off the deck of merchant ships turned into aircraft carriers.

Having managed to survive the war, he's gone to live a long and happy life, which he credits, in part, to the nerve-shredding encounters he faced in his youth.

Mr Berry embraces his sister, Liz, at the party. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Flying off ships can be hairy. Landing back on them can be even more hairy," Mr Berry recalled to ITV News Anglia.

"But, basically, it's just part of the excitement of life. And let's face it, life without excitement must be pretty terrible I think."

Key historical events that happened in 1923, the year Mr Berry was born

  • English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamun

  • The Flying Scotsman steam locomotive enters service

  • The first issue of Time magazine is published

  • The old Wembley Stadium opens for the first time

  • The first 24 Hours of Le Mans race takes place

  • The presidential address is broadcast on the radio for the first time in the USA

Family and friends threw Mr Berry a surprise party. Credit: ITV News Anglia

To mark Mr Berry's momentous milestone, family and friends threw a surprise party in Huntingdon this week.

Among the guests was young sister Liz, 94 - one of six siblings to reach the age of 90.

Durability is something that runs in the family, and Mr Berry is still feeling as good as ever.

"Lets face it, there are poor devils that are 100 that have been in pain for years, and I thank god that I'm fairly fit," said Mr Berry.

"I intend to go on, perhaps not for another 100 years, but certainly for another few years yet."

As for his advice for anyone else hoping to make it to a century?

"Simply don't die," he laughed.

"If you die, you won't live to be 100 - it's as simple as that."

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