Oxfordshire war veteran who helped distract German guards during Great Escape remembered at funeral

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Derek Johnson

The funeral of a hero pilot, and one of the last links to the famous Great Escape, has taken place in Banbury.

Captain Vyvyan Howard was captured and held at the German Stalag Luft III camp after his plane was shot down in 1941.

During that time, he played a vital role during the Great Escape where tunnels were dug at the prisoner of war camp in 1944 and prisoners escaped.

Captain Howard was not among those who tried to get out through the famous tunnels known as Tim, Dick and Harry.

But he was fluent in German and chatted to the guards, distracting them so they didn't know the digging was taking place.

Today his bravery was honoured by friends and family and current service personnel.

Today his bravery was honoured by friends and family and current service personnel. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Hi son, Charles Vyvyan Howard, said: "He had a quiet wisdom which he imparted to us and he was a pleasure to be with.

"Supported his family very heavily and that was his main aim in life.

"He spent the best years of his life, you could argue that when we're normally students at university, he was mouldering in a prisoner of war camp but he was very lucky to survive being shot down I think from what we've learned.

"Only two out of 20 people who joined up with him survived."

David Hardy knew Vyvyan through social gatherings.

David Hardy remembers Vyvyan

He said: "He was a gentleman and he was one of life's characters. He always had a great sense of humour in a very quiet unassuming way but he knew a lot about everything.

"He'd been everywhere and done everything. And as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service I was amazed that Royal Naval persons find the furthest part from the sea to retire to and hence Mollington."