November 11, 2008 / 12:33 PM / in 9 years

Britain's last WWI survivors at Armistice memorial

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Three of the last surviving members of British forces who served in World War One laid wreaths in memory of their fallen colleagues in London on Tuesday to mark the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day.

<p>First World War veterans Henry Allingham (L), Harry Patch (C) and Bill Stone pose for photographers before taking part in the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day in central London November 11, 2008. Three of the last surviving members of British forces who served in World War One laid wreaths in memory of their fallen colleagues in London on Tuesday to mark the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>

The three men, all born during the reign of Queen Victoria, joined other service personnel at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to record the day peace returned in 1918 after four years of war that left 10 million dead on all sides.

Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108, represented the armed services to which they belonged.

Allingham was present for the Royal Air Force, Patch for the Army and Stone for the Royal Navy.

The three, all in wheelchairs, carried wreaths which were laid at the foot of the white stone memorial before a two minute silence at 11 a.m.

<p>Britain's oldest war veteran Henry Allingham poses for a portrait by photographers during a visit to the Tate Britain art gallery, in central London November 10, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>

On Monday Allingham attended an exhibition of specially commissioned photos of the three veterans at the Tate Gallery in London.

Patch is Britain’s last veteran of the trenches and fought in the Battle of Passchendaele, which he later described as “mud, mud and more mud, mixed with blood.”

<p>World War One veteran Harry Patch, 110, reacts at an Armistice Day service at The Cenotaph in London November 11, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>

Stone signed up as a Navy stoker in 1918 and stayed in the service until the end of World War Two. He took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.

Among other events being held around the world for Armistice Day, Prince Charles was laying a wreath in France.

The London service was led by the Bishop to the Armed Forces, the Right Reverend David Conner.

The three veterans met Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a Downing Street reception afterwards.

Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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