Page last updated at 19:34 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 20:34 UK

Oldest veteran meets young marine

Joe Townsend and Henry Allingham
War veterans Joe Townsend and Henry Allingham met in Eastbourne

Two war veterans with more than 90 years between them have met in their home town of Eastbourne.

Henry Allingham, the UK's oldest man at 112, met Joe Townsend, aged 21, who was injured in Afghanistan, on Tuesday.

Mr Townsend's family said the marine had been "desperate" to meet Mr Allingham and was thrilled to be there.

Mr Allingham, who lived in the Sussex town for 46 years after retiring, said meeting the younger man reminded him of himself when he was "a young buck".

He added: "I really don't know why people make such a fuss about me - but they do."

Mr Townsend, who is still a serving member of the marines, was not allowed to give media interviews.

His grandmother, Nancy Townsend, said: "When we mentioned Henry, he said 'I must meet him'. He's thrilled to bits."

Planning battle

Mr Townsend lost one leg completely and one below the knee when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan.

He recently won a battle to build a specially-adapted bungalow on his grandparents' land in Pevensey.

Prime minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron called on Wealden Council to approve the planning application after the authority turned down earlier submissions.

Mr Allingham, who now lives at St Dunstan's home for blind ex-servicemen, in Ovingdean, near Brighton, was last month made an honorary member of the Royal Naval Association and also received an upgraded Legion d'Honneur in London, six years after receiving his first one.

Mr Allingham, who now has his first great-great-great-grandchild, joined the Royal Navy Air Service in September 1915 before transferring to the RAF in April 1918.

As well as being the last founder member of the RAF, he is also the sole survivor of the Battle of Jutland.


Both men from Eastbourne wanted to meet because they have experienced the horrors of war

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