Thomas Maxwell SWNS

Images courtesy: SWNS

An RAF veteran has revealed the incredible story of how he escaped the Nazis and on his way home introduced the French nation to fried eggs on toast.

Thomas Maxwell, 93, is one of the last surviving rear gunners of World War Two, known as the 'tail end Charlies'.

He parachuted out of his Lancaster bomber when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire at 8,000ft in March 1944.

Five crewmen were captured but the remaining three, including Tom, then aged 19, managed to escape.

A local family hid him at their farm in north-east France for 10 days.

Thomas Maxwell SWNS
The veteran was to find out a simple request had sparked a French 'revolution'...

Each morning Tom said he was brought bread, cheese and a glass of red wine by the farmer's wife, but one day decided to ask for his favourite - fried egg on toast.

Despite the wife finding it "ridiculous", she reportedly made the meal for all advancing Allied troops following D-Day, and it soon made its way into nearby cafes as a delicacy. The Irish-born great-grandad said:

"They had been in touch with me and I had told them about the farm I went to in the village.

"They established where it was and turned up one day and found the son was still running it. The researchers ended up talking to him.

"All these stories came out - including the one about fried eggs on toast. Shortly after that was D-Day and he said his mum made it for all the advancing Allied troops. It then ended up in all the local cafes."

After seeking sanctuary at the farm Tom returned to combat after being smuggled more than 600 miles by the French resistance across the Pyrenees to Spain.

He was eventually flown back to the UK from Gibraltar and resumed flying missions, before ending the war in India.

After a brief stint as a teacher he rejoined the RAF in 1952 in Air Traffic Control.

He retired from the RAF in 1978 and then began a 10-year stint with the Sultan of Oman's Air Force.

Tom was then awarded the Legion d'honneur by France last year.

"I am very proud of the efforts we made in the war and my service with the RAF," he said.