First World War veteran Henry Allingham, 112, yesterday returned to the gallery he visited as a boy to open a photographic exhibition of Great War survivors.

The exhibition at Tate Britain, commissioned from war photographer Don McCullin, depicts the three living veterans of the First World War, who coincidentally represent each of the three forces.

Mr Allingham is Europe’s oldest man and lives at St Dunstan’s home for blind ex-service men and women in Ovingdean, near Brighton.

He was a founding member of the Royal Air Force, which this year celebrates its 90th birthday.

He said he remembered visiting the Tate more than 100 years ago when he was 11.

Harry Patch, 108, whose portrait also hangs in the exhibition, served in the Army as a gunner during the Great War.

Bill Stone joined the Royal Navy 90 years ago on his 18th birthday. He is also 108.

The exhibition will be open to the public in Tate Britain throughout the week of remembrance.

The black and white photographs were taken six weeks ago and show each of the veterans wearing all their medals.

Mr Allingham was accompanied to the opening by Dennis Goodwin, founder of the WWI Veterans Association.

Kneeling beside Mr Allingham’s wheelchair, Mr Goodwin said: “That’s you, Henry. You look very smart.”

Mr Allingham said he is amazed his picture is now hanging in the gallery he loved as a child.

He said: “I never thought this would happen to me.

“In my album I have a photograph of myself aged two and now there is a photo of me here all these years later.”

Commodore Alistair Halliday, of the Royal Navy, was also at the opening.

He said: “These photographs were commissioned by a very renowned war photographer and we are delighted they can be here in the Tate, where an audience of many thousands, and particularly lots of young people, will see them.

“Hopefully they will make people think and remember what these three remarkable men have done.”

A spokeswoman for Tate Britain said: “Don McCullin is widely recognised as one of this country’s greatest photographers.

“On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the First World War, we are delighted to be displaying his remarkable portraits.”

All three veterans will attend the Armistice Day service at the Cenotaph today.

Each will lay wreaths in memory of those who fell during the Great War.

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