Lake, Peter

Lake, Peter

Peter Lake was born on September 2, 1920, in Borneo, Malaysia. As a young boy the family moved back to England. Not having much education growing up, Peter began working at a young age. “I only went to school for two terms growing up; my mother couldn’t afford the fee, so she had to pull me out, and I went to work on the poultry farm,” he recalled. As the Second World War began, Peter noticed advertisements seeking Air Crew recruits. “As soon as I saw them, I applied!”

The following day, he went to Oxbridge to enlist in the Royal Air Force VR (Volunteer Reserve). Initially accepted into pilot navigator training, Peter was reassigned to Wireless/ Air Gunner training. 

When his training was complete, Peter was given the choice to select which aircraft he would fly: Hamptons or Beauforts. He opted for Beauforts, saying he was drawn to their aggressive nature and the prospect of hunting for enemy shipping to torpedo. Reflecting on his decision, Peter admitted, “I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for.” However, he soon learned of the grim reality surrounding Beaufort operations – the aircraft had extremely high casualty rates, with the highest losses among all aircraft types. Peter grimly remarked, “We were almost condemned to death flying in the Beauforts.” 

As a gunner, Peter crewed up with a pilot, navigator and W/AG; they were dispatched overseas as part of the Royal Air Force Operations in the Middle East and North Africa. By the time they reached the 203 Squadron in Benghazi they were moved from flying Beauforts to Baltimores. Peter’s first operational flight on April 15, 1943, over the Aegean Sea, was when he discovered all his operations would be flown at an elevation below 5,000 feet, and at times at virtually zero altitude.

Without any serious incidents, Peter served two tours from 1942 though the end of the war, marking 61 combat missions flying in Beauforts, Baltimores, and Wellingtons. 

Peter and his wife Margaret marked his centennial birthday during the summer of 2020.
(Photo Credit – Travis Paterson/ Black Press News Staff.)

Discharged in January of 1946, Peter went back to farming and took up a job in agriculture with the British government. While living in Copperbelt province in Zimbabwe, he met Margaret, a nurse, in 1954. They married in 1957 and relocated to England after a few years. Peter’s father-in-law was a tailor and Peter learned the trade from him. They saw an opportunity in the clothing business in Canada and they took it. In 1972, Peter, Margaret, and their two sons made the move to Victoria BC. There, they purchased a clothing store called John McMaster Fine Clothes located at 1012 Fort St, which they ran until the 1980s.

In January, Peter made the transition to Veterans Memorial Lodge. Among his fellow veterans residing in the Lodge, he found a familiar face just a few doors away – Thomas Burdge, a friend and fellow member of the Vancouver Island Aircrew Association. 

Peter gave up so much so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today. It is our honour to serve Peter while he lives at Veterans Memorial Lodge, a Broadmead Care Home.

You can help veterans like Peter enjoy the comforts of home and simple pleasures by making a donation today.