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The Airmen's Stories - F/O P W Lefevre


Peter William Lefevre was born in Canterbury in mid-1918, the son of Frederick Charles and Lilian Edith Lefevre (nee Lengford), of Whitstable, Kent.

He was educated at Tonbridge School and spent two years at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1938 and did his elementary flying training at 4 E&RFTS Brough.

On 21st May he was posted to 6 FTS Netheravon, finished at Little Rissington and joined 46 Squadron at Digby in December 1938.

Lefevre shared in the destruction of a He115 floatplane on 21st October 1939.

On 9th May 1940 the squadron flew to Abbotsinch and later embarked in the carrier HMS Glorious for Norway. Lefevre took off with the CO on 28th May to make the first exploratory landing. On 7th June he shared a He111. When the squadron left Norway by flying its Hurricanes back on to the deck of the Glorious,

Lefevre remained behind to destroy vital stores and equipment. As a consequence he was one of the very few 46 Squadron pilots to be at Digby when it reformed there on 15th June 1940, the others being lost when the Glorious was sunk on 8th June.



Above: Lefevre at far right with 46 Squadron at Stapleford


On 3rd September Lefevre claimed a Ju88 destroyed and returned to Stapleford badly damaged by a Me109. He shared in the probable destruction of a Do17 on the 8th and was shot down in combat over Chatham on the 18th and baled out with minor injuries. His Hurricane, V6554, is believed to have crashed at Chestnut Avenue, Walderslade.

Lefevre shared a Do17 on 3rd November. On 22nd May 1941 46 Squadron sailed in the HMS Argus for the Middle East. It transferred its Hurricanes and pilots on to HMS Ark Royal at Gibraltar on 29th May and on 6th June they flew off to Malta and were retained there, to become 126 Squadron on 15th July 1941.

Lefevre, who had been a Flight Commander with 46 squadron, continued as one in the new squadron.

On 12th June he had destroyed a Mc200 and damaged another, on 27th July he attacked and damaged an Italian MTB and on 19th August and 4th September he destroyed Mc200s.

Lefevre took command of 126 Squadron on 8th October 1941, was awarded the DFC (gazetted 12th December 1941) and was posted back to the UK in late December 1941.



He was posted to 'X' Air Firing Squadron at 52 OTU Aston Down in late March 1942. In early 1943 Lefevre spent a short time with 129 Squadron at Iblsey and was then posted in early April to command 616 Squadron, also at Iblsey.

On 16th April the squadron was acting as top cover for Venturas attacking Brest. Lefevre, in Spitfire BS114, was shot down by flak, baled and came down at Plouguin, to the north of Brest. He was able to make contact with the French Resistance and spent many weeks hiding and moving around before crossing the border into Spain. The British Ambassador got him to Gibraltar and he flew back to England on 13th July 1943 and rejoined 616 on 11th August.

A few days later he took command of 266 Squadron at Exeter. He shared in destroying a Ju88 on 1st December.

On 21st January 1944 Lefevre destroyed a Me109 and on the 23rd he shared a Fw190. The squadron was detailed to attack anti-aircraft guns at l'Aber-Vrac'h on the coast of Brittany on 6th February 1944.

The minesweeper M156 was spotted in the area and Lefevre was seen to dive on it amid intense flak. He baled out at about 200ft., too low for his parachute to fully deploy.

Lefevre was reported 'Missing'. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 200.


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.


He is commemorated by a plaque at Tonbridge School (below).


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