Village honours Bomber Command hero for his 90th birthday

Don Loakes: Wollaston Wollaston Museum , Former member of bomber command Don Loakes has a special tribute unveiled to celebrate his 90th birthday.'l-r Jean Loakes, Don Loakes, son David Loakes, organiser Padraic Phelan'Saturday 4th August 2012

Don Loakes: Wollaston Wollaston Museum , Former member of bomber command Don Loakes has a special tribute unveiled to celebrate his 90th birthday.'l-r Jean Loakes, Don Loakes, son David Loakes, organiser Padraic Phelan'Saturday 4th August 2012

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A war hero and former member of Bomber Command has been honoured by the village where he has lived all his life by having a signed booked presented to his local museum.

Born and bred in Wollaston, Don Loakes, joined the RAF in 1942, aged 19, and served as a flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers with IX Squadron.

Throughout the Second World War Mr Loakes flew 24 death-defying missions over Nazi Germany, and helped to play a crucial part in turning the war.

To celebrate his 90th birthday on Monday, villagers presented Wollaston Museum with a book on Lancaster Bombers, signed by Mr Loakes, along with a plague with an old photo on it.Of the 112,000 brave airmen who joined bomber command almost half were killed in action. Asked about his dangerous role, Mr Loakes said: “We never gave it any thought, we were just doing a job. We had an interesting job and it kept you busy but being young and daft you didn’t think of the danger.”

Talking about his birthday honour, Mr Loakes said: “It is very nice. I just happened to be one of the lucky ones.”

After the war Don returned to his home village of Wollaston where he met and married his wife Jean in 1957 and they had two children.

He has served on Wollaston Parish Council and the Playing Fields Committee and is a stalwart of the local Church of England.

Presenting the museum with the book on Saturday, Pádraic Phelen, who organised the honour, said: “Don we are so lucky that you survived and are here with us today and it is with this in mind that I felt that we should celebrate your incredible bravery and even more incredible survival and what better to do this than to present this Tribute in your honour to our local museum for public record.

“I know that all of you will join with me in this salute to and his comrades as he begins his 90th birthday celebrations.”