The Beatles legend was on "high alert" after crazed Mark Chapman gunned down Lennon outside his New York home in 1980, and many of his showbusiness pals dramatically increased their security detail.

MCCartney's home in rural south England was still largely unprotected and in a remote woodland location, and he was left terrified days after the killing when he spotted several armed men in combat fatigues advancing on the property.

He tells Uncut magazine, "It was weird because in the days that followed it, I was sitting in the house. We had a little perimeter fence, mainly to keep foxes out, because we had some chickens. I'm aware of security threats, so I'm on high alert and I look out and I see someone with a f**king gun, like a machine gun, an assault rifle - 'Wha?!' He's in full military gear, and then I see there's a whole patrol of them. I'm going, 'Holy s**t, what's going on?!'

"I don't know what I did. I think I rang the police. It turned out to be army manoeuvres. (They said) 'Oh, sorry. Are these your woods?' I'd put two and two together and made a thousand. God, I don't know how I lived through it. You think you'd just faint dead on the ground. But they were all there, coming through these woods."