RCAF veteran recognized for contribution to Battle of Britain ceremonies

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News Article / February 23, 2017

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From the RCAF

The Royal Canadian Air Force family is large and widespread – including both Regular Force and Reserve Force personnel, former members, members’ families, and Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

The commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force recently recognized the tremendous contributions of one those family members who continued to serve the RCAF even during his retirement years.

On February 6, 2017, Major (retired) Desmond Peters was presented with an RCAF Commander’s Commendation in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the Air Force’s annual national Battle of Britain parades from 2012 to 2015.

“Your wealth of knowledge, experience, and outstanding dedication were crucial to the success of the Battle of Britain parades as the veteran’s contingent commander and as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force planning team,” said Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, commander of the RCAF, in a letter to Major Peters.

The text of Major Peters’ commendation, signed by Lieutenant-General Hood, reads as follows:

“In recognition for outstanding professionalism and dedication.

“As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force planning team and Veterans’ contingent commander, leading a flight of Veterans for the Battle of Britain parade from 2012 to 2015, Major Peters demonstrated exceptional leadership and professionalism, contributing to four extremely successful Battle of Britain ceremonies in Ottawa. In this capacity, his efforts served as liaison between the planning team and the veteran community, presenting all requests and concerns on behalf of the veterans. Major Peters devoted dedication started in 2004 as a marching veteran and, in keeping with the Royal Canadian Air Force’s tradition, his advice and insight guided the planning team in implementing key aspects of the ceremonies. Major Peters’ outstanding dedication to the Royal Canadian Air Force Battle of Britain laid the groundwork for continued success.”

About Major Desmond Peters

Major Des Peters was born in London, England, in 1925. As a 15-year-old boy, he witnessed the Battle of Britain rage in the skies about England and saw two German bomber aircraft shot down above him: a Junkers 88 and a Dornier 17.

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1942, at the age of 17 but was placed on deferred service until he turned 18. He undertook flight training in Southern Rhodesia where he obtained his wings. Upon returning to England, he was seconded to the Royal Navy, which needed pilots to deploy to the Far East to fight the Japanese. Instead of Japan, however, he found himself deployed to Scotland. While there, he became operational on Barracuda dive bombers in 1945. He transferred back to the RAF in 1947 and trained on the Spitfire fighter aircraft.

Major Peters came to Canada in 1949 and joined the Royal Canadian Auxiliary Air Force in Montreal, flying the Vampire fighter. In 1952, he transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force as a member of the Regular Force and flew F-86 Sabres. During the time of the Korean War, he was posted to a squadron in France.

Later, he was posted to Chatham, New Brunswick, where he served as a fighter tactics instructor.

He was a student on the first course at Cold Lake, Alberta, and trained on the CF-104 Starfighter in 1962. He then returned to Europe, flying Starfighters out of Baden-Soellingen, Germany, for three and a half years.

Upon returning to Canada in 1967, he became the command safety officer at Mobile Command (Army) headquarters in Montreal.

After retiring from the Air Force in 1972, he went to Transport Canada as an accident investigator and, later, as an aviation safety officer, retiring for the second time in 1985.

Major Peters has been a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association for 25 years and participated in 13 consecutive national Battle of Britain parades, which included four stints as commander of the veterans’ contingent.  

According the website Nauticapedia, Major Peters has 8,800 flying hours and has flown the following military aircraft: Tiger Moth, Cornell, Oxford, Anson, Harvard I and IV, Barracuda II and III, Magister, Spitfire XIV, XVI, XX1 and XXII, Mustang, Vampire III and V, F-86 Sabre, C-45 Expeditor, CF-100 Canuck, T-133 Silver Star, DHC-3 Otter, CF-104 Starfighter and the CF-5D Freedom Fighter. He has also flown the following civilian aircraft:  Twin Otter, Queenair, Beech Baron, Skyvan, Twin Apache, Beaver, L19, Cessna 182, Cessna 140, Piper Cub, Ercoupe, Fleet Canuck and several gliders.

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