First World War veteran George Rice was buried yesterday having died at the age of 108.

Mr Rice underwent a religious conversion in Harborne, Birmingham, and became a born-again Christian after witnessing the slaughter on the Western Front during active service in 1918.

In later years, Mr Rice, the region's oldest man, spoke of his desire to die peacefully.

"I wait for Jesus to come back again and take me into the life everlasting," he said in an interview with The Birmingham Post.

Mr Rice, who had ten grandchildren and ten greatgrandchildren, died on September 17 in West Heath Hospital after being taken ill at his care home in Kings Heath. Remarkably, his life spanned three different centuries.

Family and friends paid their last respects at a funeral service held at Lodge Hill cemetery and crematorium in Selly Oak.

The service was conducted by the Rev David Barber, of Kings Heath and Moseley Baptist Church, where Mr Rice used to worship.

Mr Rice enlisted at the age of 17 with the Durham Light Infantry and was called to the front in 1918, attached to the Duke of Wellington Regiment.

Mr Rice moved to Birmingham from his native Northeast after the war and married in 1928. He worked in the car and aircraft industry throughout his life and only retired at 71. His wife Elsie, with whom he had four sons, died in 1997.