During the King’s message on Christmas Day a man was shown being presented to the Queen — he was none other than Flight Lieutenant Jack Lyon, a former Launceston resident, who was among those digging their way to freedom in ‘The Great Escape’ of 1944.

A montage was shown as part of the traditional Christmas speech, this year given by King Charles III, his first as sovereign, which included an image of the late Jack (who passed in 2019 aged 101) meeting the Queen.

Flt/Lt Lyon was a navigator in the RAF. Born in 1917, he joined up at the age of 21 when war broke out in 1939. During World War Two — in 1941 — he was onboard a bomber, which was carrying out a raid over Germany. The engine failed and much to the crew’s dismay they came down in the middle of what is now Poland. Mr Lyon was taken to the prisoner-of-war (POW) camp ‘Stalag Luft III’ and was imprisoned there for three years.

In 1944 he, and 200 other POWs, participated in a daring attempt to tunnel their way to freedom — this later became the basis for the film ‘The Great Escape’.

His nephew contacted the Post to say: “Jack was being introduced to the Queen as one of the last survivors of the Great Escape during World War Two. He also appeared on television a number of times to recount his memories of the event.

“Possibly Jack’s appearance during the broadcast on Christmas Day means he was seen by more people than any other Launceston resident in history!”