Robert Laycock

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 Sir

Robert Laycock

Major General Sir Robert "Lucky" Laycock
Born(1907-04-18)18 April 1907
Westminster, London, England
Died10 March 1968(1968-03-10) (aged 60)
East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1927–1965
Service number37258
UnitRoyal Horse Guards
Commands heldLayforce
Special Service Brigade
Combined Operations
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight 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
RelationsJoseph Frederick Laycock (father)
Other workGovernor of Malta
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire

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. 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]

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 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

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.

Last years

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

He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire in 1962.

A noted horseman, yachtsman and historical book collector, his interests made him a man who could enjoy life. It was said by many 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.


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.


  1. Edwina Ottilie Jane Laycock (born 1936) has been twice married, and has issue by both marriages.
  2. 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.
  3. Benjamin Richard Laycock (born 1947); married 1971, and has issue 1 son and 2 daughters.
  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.


  1. Anand, Sushila (2008), Daisy: The Life and Loves of the Countess of Warwick, Piatkus. ISBN 978-0-7499-5169-6
  2. 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
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