Britain's oldest man held hands with a fellow war veteran more than 90 years his junior during a poignant meeting in their hometown of Eastbourne.

Henry Allingham met injured Royal Marine Joe Townsend on Tuesday at the RAF Association Club.

Royal Navy veteran Mr Allingham, 112, is one of only two surviving First World War veterans in the UK.

Mr Townsend, 21, lost both his legs, one completely and one to the knee after stepping on a mine in February 2008 while serving in Afghanistan.

Dennis Goodwin, Mr Allingham's close friend and founder of the First World War Veterans' Association, said of the meeting: "He had great empathy with him being wounded in the war. He showed his concern for the young lad, talked to him and held his hand.

"Both men were a bit overcome by one another. This was the first time they'd met and words didn't come easily to explain how they felt. However, you could tell there were genuine feelings held by both men."

He added: "What they left unsaid was more important. Anyone who was there yesterday was left in no doubt these two men understood each other's own problems."

Joe's mother Debi Hawkins said of the meeting: "It meant a lot. Joe was extremely happy he'd finally got to meet him. It was a wonderful moment for him, speaking to someone of that age about similar experiences."

Mr Townsend was last month granted permission to build a specially adapted bungalow at his grandfather's home following a high profile battle with Wealden District Council chiefs.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron stepped in to urge the authority to reconsider its initial decision to refuse the application on planning grounds.