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The Airmen's Stories - F/O K T Lofts


Keith Temple Lofts was born in Canterbury on 8th February 1918. He attended Haileybury College from 1932 to 1935 and joined 615 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force in 1938.


Above image courtesy of the Chris Goss collection.


Called to full-time service on 24th August 1939, he was attached to 11 Group Pool for Hurricane training from 14th to 17th September. Lofts flew from Croydon to Merville with the squadron on 15th November.

The squadron was withdrawn to Kenley on 21st May 1940 and was operational again a month later.

He claimed three aircraft destroyed or damaged operating over France but the details were lost in the retreat though it is known that he shared a He111 of III/KG1 with S/Ldr. Kayll on 22nd June 1940, the aircraft coming down west of Rouen.



On 14th August 1940 he claimed a Ju87 destroyed and another damaged, on the 15th shared a Me109, on the 16th destroyed a He111, on the 18th damaged a Do17, on the 20th destroyed a Me109 and on the 29th got a probable Me109.

Lofts was posted to 249 Squadron at North Weald on 10th September. He made a crash-landing at West Malling on the 15th when his Hurricane was severely damaged by a Me109 following the destruction of a He111 south-east of London.

He claimed a Me110 destroyed on the 27th.

Lofts was hit by return fire from a Do17 engaged over Kent on 16th October. He made a forced-landing at Rolvenden, near Tenterden in Hurricane V6878. His aircraft was damaged in a bombing attack on 29th October as he was taking off from North Weald.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd October 1940).

In February 1941 Lofts was posted to 52 OTU Debden as an instructor and left there on 30th July. He was posted to Turnhouse in November to form and command 340 Squadron. Lofts commanded 134 Squadron at Eglinton and later Baginton from February to April 1942.



He took command of 66 Squadron at Skeabrae in May 1943. On 8th October he damaged a Me110, on the 13th shared a Ju88 and on 19th May 1944 he damaged a Me109. He was posted away in late May 1944 and awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 26th January 1945).

Lofts was released from the RAF in 1946, as a Wing Commander. He rejoined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in January 1948 and commanded 604 Squadron from 1948 until he was killed in a flying accident in a Vampire on 20th May 1951 at Swifts Park, Cranbrook, Kent.

On Sunday 20th May 1951, several RAF aircraft were taking part in the second heat of the Cooper Trophy air race. Lofts was taking part in Vampire III VG700. On his second lap of the circuit, in a tight turn, a part of the nose cowling broke off, striking the cockpit canopy. The Vampire was seen to climb vertically, stall, spin and recover but after stalling for a second time it struck the ground.

He is buried in St Laurence's Churchyard, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.





His brother Major MH Lofts was killed aged 27 on 11th November 1943 serving with the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. He lies in Cassino War Cemetery.



Lofts bride, born Alma O'Sheehan, was first married in April 1941 to F/O Peter Grenfell Dexter, a Battle veteran who was killed over France on 14th July 1941.

She was widowed for a second time just 18 months later.


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