Jack Lyon, one of the last veterans of World World War 2’s Great Escape has died at the age of 101, only a few days before the 75th anniversary of the getaway.
The former RAF navigator passed away at his home in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.
In 1944, Mr. Lyon was lookout during the breakout bid from Stalag Luft III. However, the escape tunnel was exposed before he had the chance to get out. He said the plot being crashed probably saved his life.
In an interview with BBC during his 100th birthday, Mr. Lyon said: “Had I got out, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you because my chances of getting home were virtually nil. I was under no illusions about that.”
Mr. Lyon had been one of the last known living veterans of the escape attempt, according to the RAF Benevolent Fund. It became the subject of a Hollywood movie in 1963.
He described the Hollywood portrayal of the attempt as ‘absolute rubbish.’ Mr. Lyon said: “Not one American took part in it, and as for the motorbike, it never existed.”
None of the 76 people who escaped from the Nazi camp is still alive. 73 of them were recaptured, 50 of them were executed under the orders of Adolf Hitler.
RAFBF chief executive Air Vice Marshal David Murray said: “Jack belonged to a generation of servicemen we are sadly losing as time goes on.
“His legacy and those of his brave comrades who planned and took part in the audacious Great Escape breakout, are the freedoms we enjoy today.
“To truly pay tribute to his memory and all this who have gone before him, we must never forget.
“Jack’s death is especially poignant as it comes just two weeks before the 75th anniversary of the Great Escape, on March 24.”
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