235,355 Pages

Sir Robert Edward Laycock
INF3-77 pt9 General R E Laycock.jpg
Major General Sir Robert "Lucky" Laycock
Born (1907-04-18)18 April 1907
Died 10 March 1968(1968-03-10) (aged 60)
Place of birth London, England
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1927 – 1947
Rank Major General
Commands held Combined Operations
Special Service Brigade

Second World War

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
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 British Army officer, most famous for his service with the commandos during the Second World War.

Early lifeEdit

Laycock was born in London on 18 April 1907, the eldest son of Brigadier General Sir Joseph Frederick Laycock (d. 1952), a Royal Artillery officer, by his marriage to Katherine Mary Hare (1872–1959), previously married to the 6th Marquess of Downshire (d. 1918), 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 (d. 1958) married the 2nd Lord Daresbury and is grandmother of the present Baron. Laycock's father was knighted for his services during the First World War.

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. He also briefly worked in a factory.

Military careerEdit

In 1927, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards.[1] He served in World War II 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.[1] He held that position until 1947.[1]

Combined Operations in England, 1943 TR1425

R. Laycock in 1943

British Generals 1939-1945 H39029

Laycock inspecting Marine Commandos shortly before the 1944 Normandy landings

Governor of MaltaEdit

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.[1] This was during a period of tensions surrounding a drive for independence, with Dom Mintoff leading the campaign to remove the British presence. Laycock served until 1959, having had his term extended twice.

Last yearsEdit

Laycock suffered from circulation problems, which meant constant pain in one leg. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire in 1962. A noted horseman, yachtsman and book collector, his interests made him a man who could enjoy life. It was said that he had no enemies. While walking back from Sunday church services on 10 March 1968, Laycock had a heart attack and died. His estate was probated at 279,910 pounds sterling.


Laycock was married in 1935 to Claire Angela Louise Dudley Ward (1916–1999)[2] 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.


  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 (b. 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 (b. 1947); married 1971, and has issue 1 son and 2 daughters.
  3. Edwina Ottilie Jane Laycock (b. 1936) has been twice married, and has issue by both marriages.
  4. Emma Rose Laycock, now Lady Temple (b. 1943), married 1964 Sir Richard Chartier Carnac Temple, 5th Bt. (b. 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.[3]
  5. Katherine Martha Laycock (b. 1949); married 1969 David Mlinaric (b. 1939), interior designer and decorator,[4] has three children.<


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. Anonymous. obituary for her cousin Bindy Lambton, or the former Countess of Durham, published in The Daily Telegraph on 18 February 2003. [1]
  3. 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.
  4. 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

External linksEdit



  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Commando, Peter Young; Ballantine Books, New York, 1969
  • The Lost Battle, Crete 1941, Callum MacDonald, Pan Books, 2002
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

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).