Peter Loakes, Rear Gunner in the Solly crew

Peter died 16th January 2013

Peter Loakes, taken before joining the Solly crew

Peter's Caterpillar Club membership card

A Caterpillar Club badge (temporary image): the badge has red eyes, as befits someone whose aircraft was on fire.




Holding it so that we can see the back of his badge, Peter's name is engraved, vouching for its authenticity.


A Dinner hosted by Sir Lindsay Everard Bt. MP, of the Everard's Brewery family, held at the Aero Club, Charles Street, Leicester for returning Leicestershire RAF POWs. The host gave each former POW life membership of the Royal Air Forces' Association and of the British Legion.
Peter is 5th from the left on the front row. Image via John Collier.
If you can name others in this photo please contact the Editor.

Part of a tribute sent by Eddie Chapman, the Bomb Aimer in the Solly crew, to Peter's family for his funeral in January 2013:

As the last surviving member of Mike Solly’s Lancaster crew I wish, on behalf of all of us, to pay tribute to Peter, who in his capacity as Rear Gunner showed a special kind of bravery. Isolated from the rest of us and in a very vulnerable position in a Perspex draught ridden turret he was very aware that he was defending the rest of us as we pressed on to the target.

Through such ordeals we were melded together into a state of comradeship and confidence. Never did we believe that we would be shot down.

After I was caught and put into solitary confinement I was surprised to see Peter‘s name scratched on the wall. At least it meant that one other had survived.

Eventually we met up again in Stalag Luft VII, Bankau, Poland. We were also part of the long line of bedraggled POWs and civilians herded on by guns and guards in temperatures well below zero, scavenging for food- turnips, sugar beet and the occasional bread ration.

I also remember Peter as possessing an impressive gift of the gab for obtaining things and going places. Despite strict rationing he often managed to obtain a double portion of bacon and eggs before take-off and yes, even petrol coupons for going on leave.

I seem to remember he was due to see the CO after our last bombing trip, something about verbally overstepping the mark in regard to Senior Ranking Officers while dancing with the CO’s wife. However he never had that meeting as our POW interlude intervened.

Peter provided us with endless accounts both on and off the squadron.  At times we wondered whether it was fact or fiction yet it didn’t matter as it provided some light hearted diversion.

page last updated 3 Oct 06: 27 Dec 13: 18 Nov 17