Robert Laycock

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Major-General Sir
Robert Laycock

INF3-77 pt9 General R E Laycock.jpg

Major General Sir Robert "Lucky" Laycock
Nickname(s) Lucky
Born(1907-04-18)18 April 1907
Westminster, London, England
Died 10 March 1968(1968-03-10) (aged 60)
East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg  British Army
Years of service 1927–1965
Rank Major-General
Service number 37258
Unit Royal Horse Guards
Commands held Layforce
Special Service Brigade
Combined Operations

World War II

Awards Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Knight of the Venerable Order of St John
Spouse(s) Claire Angela Louise Dudley Ward
Relations Joseph Frederick Laycock (father)
Other work Governor of Malta
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire

Major-General Sir Robert Edward Laycock KCMG CB DSO KStJ (18 April 1907 – 10 March 1968) was a senior British Army officer, most significant for his service with the British Commandos during the Second World War.

Major general, is a "two-star" rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank was also briefly used by the Royal Air Force for a year and a half, from its creation to August 1919. In the British Army, a major general is the customary rank for the appointment of division commander. In the Royal Marines, the rank of major general is held by the Commandant General.

Distinguished Service Order UK military decoration

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the Commonwealth, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. Since 1993 all ranks have been eligible.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.


Early life

Laycock was born in Westminster on 18 April 1907, the eldest son of Brigadier General Sir Joseph Frederick Laycock (died 1952)an officer of the Royal Regiment of Artillery knighted for his services during the First World Warby his marriage on 14 November 1902 to Katherine Mary (Kitty) Hare (1872–1959), who was previously married to and divorced by the 6th Marquess of Downshire (died 1918), [1] and herself a granddaughter of William Hare, 2nd Earl of Listowel. Laycock was thus a half-brother of the 7th Marquess of Downshire; their sister Josephine (died 1958) married Edward Greenall, 2nd Lord Daresbury, and is grandmother of the present Baron.[ citation needed ] Through his father's relationship with the married Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, issue occurring before and during his marriage with Kitty, Robert Laycock was half-brother to the Countess of Warwick's son Maynard Greville (1898-1960), and daughter, Mercy Greville (1904-1968). [1]

Westminster area of central London, within the City of Westminster

Westminster is an area of central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Brigadier (Brig) is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. Brigadier is the superior rank to colonel, but subordinate to major-general. It corresponds to the Rank of brigadier general in many other nations.

Royal Artillery artillery arm of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.

Laycock was educated at Lockers Park School and Eton College, followed by officer training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from which he emerged as a well-read young man with a scientific bent.[ according to whom? ] He also briefly worked in a factory.[ citation needed ]

Lockers Park School

Lockers Park School is a day and boarding preparatory school for boys and co-educational pre-preparatory school, situated in 23 acres of countryside in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Its current headmaster is Christopher Wilson.

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is a 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor, as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

Royal Military College, Sandhurst British Army military academy

The Royal Military College (RMC), founded in 1801 and established in 1802 at Great Marlow and High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, but moved in October 1812 to Sandhurst, Berkshire, was a British Army military academy for training infantry and cavalry officers of the British and Indian Armies.

Military career

In 1927, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards. [2] He served in the Second World War as a lieutenant-colonel with the commandos in North Africa, Crete, Sicily and Italy before being promoted to major-general and becoming Chief of Combined Operations in 1943. [2] He held that position until 1947. [2] See Layforce

Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (RHG) was a cavalry regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Lieutenant colonel, is a rank in the British Army and Royal Marines which is also used in many Commonwealth countries. The rank is superior to major, and subordinate to colonel. The comparable Royal Navy rank is commander, and the comparable rank in the Royal Air Force and many Commonwealth air forces is Wing Commander.

Robert Laycock in 1943. Combined Operations in England, 1943 TR1425.jpg
Robert Laycock in 1943.
Laycock inspecting Marine Commandos shortly before the 1944 Normandy landings. British Generals 1939-1945 H39029.jpg
Laycock inspecting Marine Commandos shortly before the 1944 Normandy landings.

Governor of Malta

In 1954, his old friend, Anthony Head, now Secretary of State for War appointed Laycock to the position of Commander-in-Chief and Governor of Malta. [2] This was during a period of tensions surrounding a drive for independence, with Prime Minister Dom Mintoff leading a campaign for "Integration (with Britain) or Self-Determination", and the Nationalist Party looking for a "Quasi-Dominion Status. Prior to his assuming the position of Governor, Queen Elizabeth knighted Laycock in the drawing room of Sledmere House, Yorkshire whilst staying as fellow house guests of Sir Richard Sykes, Baronet. Laycock served until 1959, having had his term extended twice.[ citation needed ]

Secretary of State for War British cabinet-level position

The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position, first held by Henry Dundas. In 1801 the post became that of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The position was re-instated in 1854.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely-populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

Dom Mintoff Maltese politician

Domenico Mintoff was a Maltese politician, architect, anti-colonialist revolutionary, and civil engineer who was leader of the Labour Party from 1949 to 1984, and was 8th Prime Minister of Malta from 1955 to 1958, when Malta was still a British colony, and again, following independence, from 1971 to 1984. His tenure as Prime Minister saw the creation of a comprehensive welfare state, nationalisation of large corporations, a substantial increase in the general standard of living and the establishment of the Maltese republic, but was later on marred by a stagnant economy and outbreaks of political violence.

Last years

Laycock suffered from severe circulatory problems, which meant constant pain in one leg.

He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire in 1962.

This is a list of people who have served as Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. Since 1694, all Lords Lieutenant have also been Custos Rotulorum of Nottinghamshire.

A noted horseman, yachtsman and historical book collector, his interests made him a man who could enjoy life. It was said by many [ by whom? ] he had no enemies.

While walking back from Sunday church services on 10 March 1968, Laycock suffered a massive heart attack and died.

His estate was probated at £279,910.[ citation needed ]


Laycock was married in 1935 to Claire Angela Louise Dudley Ward (1916–1999) [3] younger daughter of the Right Honourable William Dudley Ward, Liberal MP for Southampton by his wife Freda Dudley Ward née Winifred May Birkin, granddaughter of Sir Thomas Isaac Birkin, 1st Baronet. By his wife, he had two sons, and three daughters. His wife Angela, Lady Laycock, died in 1999.[ citation needed ]


  1. Joseph William Peter Laycock (1938 – bef. 16 December 1980), accidentally drowned with his eight-year-old daughter Flora in a boating accident on the River Thames, and was survived by two children. He married 1971 Eve Lucinda Fleming (born 15 May 1947), better known as the actress Lucy Fleming, younger daughter of Peter Fleming, otherwise Lt. Col. (Robert) Peter Fleming, OBE (1907–1971) by his wife Dame Celia Johnson, actress (1908–1982). Lucy Fleming is a niece of Ian Fleming, creator of "James Bond", and has remarried.
  2. Benjamin Richard Laycock (born 1947); married 1971, and has issue 1 son and 2 daughters.
  3. Edwina Ottilie Jane Laycock (born 1936) has been twice married, and has issue by both marriages.
  4. Emma Rose Laycock, now Lady Temple (born 1943), married 1964 Sir Richard Chartier Carnac Temple, 5th Bt. (born 1937), elder son and heir of Sir Richard Antony Purbeck Temple, 4th Bt., of The Nash, MC ( 1913– 5 December 2007) by his first wife Lucy Geils de Lotbinière, dau of Alain Joly de Lotbinière, of Montreal; they have issue, three daughters. [4]
  5. Katherine Martha Laycock (born 1949); married 1969 David Mlinaric (born 1939), interior designer and decorator, [5] has three children.

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  1. 1 2 Anand, Sushila (2008), Daisy: The Life and Loves of the Countess of Warwick, Piatkus. ISBN   978-0-7499-5169-6
  2. 1 2 3 4 Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. Anonymous. obituary for her cousin Bindy Lambton, or the former Countess of Durham, published in the Daily Telegraph on 18 February 2003.
  4. Michael Rhodes, with supplements by Brooke. " Sir Richard Antony Purbeck Temple, 4th Baronet, MC (1913–2007)". "Peerage_News" group on Google, 8 December 2007. The baronetcy was created 1876 for Sir Richard Temple, 1st Baronet, a British India colonial administrator.
  5. Portrait of David Mlinaric, National Portrait Gallery. Mlinaric notably redecorated Spencer House (Princess Diana's ancestral home in London) as well as all of Lord Rothschild's private residences. See Christopher Bagley, "The Rothschilds, photographs by Derry Moore, W Magazine, January 2008, p. 2



Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Gerald Creasy
Governor of Malta
Succeeded by
Sir Guy Grantham
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Portland
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire
Succeeded by
Robert Sherbrooke