Tears were shed as Britain's oldest First World War veteran, Henry Allingham, embraced his German counterpart for the first time.

The 110-year-old from Eastbourne had travelled 600 miles to meet Robert Meier, 109.

The pair had been enemies as they fought in the battlefields of the Somme.

Some 90 years later, they hugged as tightly as long-lost brothers at a remembrance lunch in Witten, 25 miles south of Dortmund.

The warmth of their greeting left many in tears as Mr Allingham was seen reaching out to touch the German's cheek, his own eyes welling up, as he said: "It's a joy to meet you, old chap."

Mr Meier clutched Mr Allingham's shoulder and replied: "Wunderbar!"

The oldest man in the UK and the oldest man in Germany had both braved driving rain for a memorial service in Mr Witten's home town, ahead of next month's Armistice anniversary.

It was the first time Mr Allingham had set foot in Germany since he served in the Army of Occupation after The Great War. The pair clasped hands during lunch as an interpreter dabbed tears from his eyes.

Mr Allingham, who has recently moved to St Dunstan's in Ovingdean, Brighton, told his former enemy: "I can't see very well, I can't hear very well but I can still feel and it feels wonderful to meet you. A thousand words cannot convey how happy I feel today."

Mr Meier replied: "You and I prove that we are never too old to make friends - and I already consider you an old friend. You understand so much of what I am saying but there's not many of us left."

Earlier they had both been wheeled, side by side, to a war memorial in the town's Lutherpark, where Mr Allingham had struggled to his feet, aided by RAF servicemen, to lay a wreath of poppies.

They had been foes in the same sector of the Western Front in 1917. Air mechanic Mr Allingham had flown over the Somme in a biplane, dropping bombs on the battlefield as infantryman Mr Meier dived for cover.

Mr Meier later fought at Reims and Saint Quentin but was shot in the knee at Chemin Des Dames and sent home.

Mr Allingham said: "Although we were considered enemies during the Occupation, I saw the German families like yours suffer just as much, if not more, than we did.

"You didn't want war and neither did we. Your country was starving yet still the German family I was billeted with showed me kindness I will never forget."

After their emotional meeting on Saturday, Mr Meier said: "I am an old man but you have made me feel young again.

Thank you for coming all this way to see me. Thank you for everything."

Mr Allingham replied: "I never thought I'd see the day I'd meet a 109-year-old German soldier. I wish you a much longer life, young man. Much longer."