World War One Veterans' Association founder dies aged 91

BBC News
Getty Images Mr Goodman, seen here in 2014, helped veterans with benefits and organised battlefield tours

The founder of the World War One Veterans' Association, Dennis Goodwin, has died at his Sussex home aged 91.

The organisation, set up in 1989, provided a platform for veterans to talk about their experiences and arranged trips for them and their families to revisit the battlefields of France.

In 2008 Mr Goodwin was awarded the MBE for services to veterans.

He said he wanted to educate children about the "special generation".

Through his work with the association he helped veterans obtain pensions and compensation for the long term effects of World War One.

In addition to visiting old battlefields the organisation took veterans to garden parties at Buckingham Palace, events in Parliament and reunions across the country.

Speaking to the BBC in 2014, Mr Goodwin's wife and association co-founder - Brenda Goodwin - said men found it difficult coming back from the war.

"There was no way their family or friends could understand what they'd been through," she said.

Mr Goodwin said the trips to old battlefields helped men talk about their experiences.

"[Their families] learnt more about their fathers' war than ever before because they opened up," he said.

Inevitably as the years passed the number of World War One veterans living in Britain diminished to just three - Harry Patch, Bill Stone and Henry Allingham, whose autobiography - Kitchener's Last Volunteer - Mr Goodwin co-wrote.

Mrs Goodwin said the trio ended up becoming friends because they did so many functions together.

The son of a fireman, Dennis Goodwin was born in a Lancashire fire station on 23 October 1926.

At 17 he volunteered with the RAF and enlisted in 1944.

He spent the remainder of World War Two in Burma working with Air Sea Rescue.

After the war he served in Singapore and Malaysia before being demobbed in 1948.

He subsequently worked in human resources for local government in Lancashire and Bath.

In 1982 he moved to West Sussex where he helped arrange the twinning of Littlehampton with Chennevières-sur-Marne in France and Durmerscheim in Germany.

In addition to his work with the World War One Veterans' Association he was also the welfare officer for the RAF Benevolent Fund and a trustee for Age Concern.

Dennis Goodwin said the veterans of World War One "got under his skin".

"They were another breed," he said.

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