“Understanding yesterday, for the benefit of today and tomorrow”
Capt. Peter Terrey Wykes, R.A.
It is well that we in Kibworth should be reminded of the faultless courage, bravery, and heroism displayed by "our lads" who left this place young and virile, became leaders, and who gave their lives for their King and Country, that we might live.
Such a one was Captain Peter Terrey Wykes, who while flying in support of the troops crossing the Rhine was shot down, and met his death at the age of 24, on March 24th, 1945.
During the Battle of Britain he was in charge of a searchlight unit. Later, desiring "a more useful job," he volunteered to act as an Army observation officer on bombing missions over the Continent. Of the sixteen pioneers in this work six lost their lives. Five of the remainder were awarded the M.C. and the others, including Peter, were mentioned in dispatches. In order to qualify for the job "Peter" trained as an air-
Peter, the younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald D. Wykes, of Northfield, Kibworth Harcourt, was educated at Chesterton, Seaford, and Eastbourne College, and after leaving school just prior to the War he entered his father's business in Leicester.
There have been many tributes, both here and abroad, to Peter Terrey Wykes . . .and we cannot do better than give short extracts contained in letters received from those who knew him best.
From the Head of Eastbourne College,
"I well remember how Peter ran the Prep Room for me, and how keen he was. He was always able to get the best out of those under him. I hoped that he would have kept his connection with his old School after the War. It is the death of young men like Peter, who are so badly needed to build a new world, that exposes the evil and the futility of war."
From a Gunner in his Flight.
"He was a good officer and I thought the world of him, and so did the rest of the fellows. I lost one of my pals who was the observer ' when they were both killed. The fellows in the flight have taken this loss very hard because they were the most popular and best liked chaps in the flight. They are sadly missed by those who loved them."
From his Flight Commander.
"I am his Flight Commander and also his friend. Peter was a very fine pilot, and a completely fearless one. Throughout all the fighting since D-
From his Squadron Leader.
"On the morning of March 24th, our airborne troops were dropped across the Rhine, and later after hard fighting joined up with our Infantry, who had crossed the river the previous night. A certain Highland Division were suffering badly and being held up by intensive enemy artillery fire.
The task given to Peter's flight was to observe for our own massed artillery and silence these enemy guns. This was an extremely hazardous task as the smoke and dust of battle made observation very difficult, and necessitated the pilots flying right forward over our own front line.
For four days the flight kept up a continuous watch and doing really magnificent work in support of our infantry. But Peter, with his observer, was shot down not far from the East bank of the Rhine North of Rees. Both of them were killed instantly, and they were buried side by side in a little orchard near where they fell.
Peter had been in my Squadron for over 15 months and had journeyed a long and dangerous road with us. Everything he did he did superbly, he was admired and respected by all ranks, and loved by those of us who knew him well. Had it not been for the adventurous and fearless spirits of men like Peter, who have given their lives fur their country, there would be no victory now."
From Chester Wilmot of the B.B.C.
Peter flew Chester Wilmot on several occasions over Holland, Belgium, France and Germany, and this is what he writes:
"I doubt if people at home realise just what cold courage it takes to do the job Peter was doing on that day—as he had done so many days before. It is one thing to fly through an enemy barrage—you can see their shells bursting and you can take evasive action; but it's a far, far more dangerous task to fly in the midst of one of your own barrages. You can see nothing of the course of the shells that are going past you. Sometimes you can fly above the barrage, but when really big bombardment is in progress and heavy and medium guns are firing from some miles back you must fly through the barrage and hope. In this instance Peter, in order to gain better observation over the enemy territory, was flying in the path of the barrage when his aircraft was hit. He was doing his job in a manner which—as the Americans say in their citation for gallantry—was 'above and beyond the call of duty.' That, of course, was the way Peter always did his job, and that is why he was such an inspiration to his squadron, and why they felt his loss so keenly.
He might on that day have had the easier task of flying me to observe the airborne drop, as I had asked his O.C. if Peter could fly me, but as it happened Peter was booked for this other task and I was flown by someone else. It was not for some days that I learnt what a tragedy had happened. There is some comfort in the knowledge that to the last Peter was doing the task to which he had set his hand, as you would have had him do it."
“The Kibworth News and Forces’ Journal, No2 New Series 1945”.