Peter was born in Norwich in 1913, the second son of Rev. Conrad Douglas Richard Oakley-Bankes M.A. and Dorothy C Sandham.

He was educated at Oundle and matriculated in 1931. He rowed in the Boat Race Crews of 1933 and 1935. In 1933, he weighed 13st.12lbs. By 1935, his weight was 14st.3lbs and the boat was the heaviest in the history of the race, up to that time.

An article in Time Magazine in April 1935 said,

“For the 500,000 Londoners who view the boat race each year, Oxford is a sentimental favorite. Cambridge's monotonous victories are always due to "magic." This year the magic was stranger than usual. Oxford, with the heaviest boat in history (183 lb.), outweighed Cambridge 3 lb. to a slide. Oxford's 200-lb. No. 4, P. R. S. Bankes, who rowed so hard in practice that he broke five oars, was given an oar with a half inch less leverage and a 6-inch blade. Furthermore, by a sporting arrangement which U. S. rowing coaches would find strange. Peter Haig-Thomas, whom experts held responsible for the string of Cambridge victories, this year changed sides, coached the Oxford boat.”  Despite this, Cambridge won again!

He read Forestry and his name appears in a list of Diploma Students in the Department of Anthropology in Michaelmas Term 1934.

He worked for the Forest Service of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd.

He married Pearl Paulina Beaumont-Thomas in the Parish Church, Hethersett, Norfolk on 17 August 1940. [His father was the Rector of Morningthorpe, Long Stratton.] They sailed on the Staffordshire from Liverpool to Rangoon in October. She was only nineteen.

On 8 February 1942 he was granted a Commission in the Army of Burma, Reserve of Officers. He was attached to the Western Chin Levies. The award of the Military Cross was gazetted on 16 December 1943, after his death on 27 November 1943.

The notice of his death in the Times of 22 December 1943 stated “On November 28th 1943, reported killed, accidentally shot, dearly loved husband of Pearl, now in India”.

His name is on the Rangoon Memorial, Face 111.

Their only child, a son, was born at Shillong, Assam on 14 July 1944.

Pearl Bankes’ brother was killed at Arnhem on 20 September 1944 whilst second in command of the 4th Parachute Squadron.