Lieutenant-General Sir Sydney Lawford KCB

Sydney Turing Barlow Lawford was born in Tunbridge Wells on 16th Nov 1865. He served in the Royal Fusiliers in the Boer War with the rank of captain and reached the rank of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel. He was a Major-General in World War One, commanding the 22nd Brigade and then the 41st Division. He was knighted in the field in 1918 and enjoyed wearing his dress uniform with medals, earning the nickname Swanky Syd. After the war he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and served in India. He was married to his second wife, Muriel, but had an affair with May Somerville Aylen (ne Bunny), the estranged wife of a fellow officer, Colonel Ernest Aylen. May became pregnant and the resulting scandal caused the divorce of May and Ernest, and of Sir Sydney and Muriel. The child, Peter, was born on 7th Sep 1923, and Sydney and May married a year later. Peter became a child actor and went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood, marrying the sister of John F Kennedy, and was part of Frank Sinatra's Rat-Pack. He lived a drug-fuelled, hedonistic lifestyle that eventually caused his death in 1984. Sir Sydney lived abroad with May and young Peter, at first in France and then Palm Beach, Florida. He appeared in 3 motion pictures and died in Los Angeles on 15th Feb 1953. More information about his is available in the Commanding Officer's section

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by Stephen Luscombe