Oxfordshire's last surviving First World War veteran was a special guest at a lunch at the Ministry of Defence yesterday to mark the 90th anniversary of Britain's declaration of war on Germany.

William Stone, 103

William Stone, 103, from Watlington, was one of four veterans of the Great War at the meal.

He chatted to fellow veteran Henry Allingham, 108, from Eastbourne, who saw action with the Royal Navy Air Service at the Somme, the Battle of Jutland and the third battle of Ypres.

Mr Stone, a former Royal Navy Chief Stoker, who also served in the Second World War, was presented with a bottle of Campaign Ale, brewed to the 1914 recipe, as a gift from the charity TocH, which was originally founded to help soldiers injured in the trenches of Flanders. He and the other veterans also received a copy of a national newspaper dated August 5, 1914, featuring the headline 'Outbreak of War'.

The lunch in the recently-reopened MoD building in Whitehall followed a morning of commemorations at the Cenotaph.

During the service, Dennis Goodwin, secretary of the World War I Veterans' Association, told the congregation: "This handful of survivors have gathered here to remember the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of their war, a war which tragically changed the face of Europe and significantly changed their lives. That brought sorrow and sadness into every hamlet, village, town and city across our country.

"These are very brave men, as witnessed by the fact that they made this journey to London today to stand in front of the country's and the Queen's monument to our glorious dead.

"They are here to remember their survival and to pay homage to those who were less fortunate than they."

Following the Cenotaph ceremony, when he laid a wreath, Mr Stone, who chatted to dignitaries and guests, said: "I saw many of my friends who went to fight in the war and who never came back. It was tragic and this morning's ceremony was deeply moving for me."

The four former servicemen were presented with the new Veterans' Badge by veterans' minister Ivor Caplin.

Also attending were Lord Kitchener, whose great-uncle was the war minister who featured on famous recruiting posters urging Your Country Needs You, and Lord Jellicoe, the son of the Royal Navy's First World War Admiral of the Fleet.