The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Lubbock, Peter Lawson (1920 – 1948)

Grave Number 1128

Peter was born on 1st November 1920 in Kensington. His father, Harry Lawson Lubbock, was a games master married to Ada Mary nee Hudson. His mother was from Cambridge and his parents had married there in 1911. Peter was an only child, when his father returned from the Great War his parents had a son, Harry, but he died that same year.

The family moved to Berkhamsted when Peter’s father became games master at Berkhamsted School. Peter became accomplished as a trick diver. The picture here shows him in a “double lock” dive from a height of 30ft.

In “The Sphere” newspaper on 28th October 1929 he was described as “the world’s youngest trick diver”. He was trained by his father, no doubt in the pool at Berkhamsted school. He was also a member of the Torquay Leander Swimming Club and the Amateur Diving Association. He won many medals and prizes for diving. In 1937 he won the Torquay Leander Swimming and Lifesaving society’s long-distance race and took part in many South-West Regatta festivals.

By 1938, Peter had joined the naval cadets, with special entry for Engineering duties. He became a Midshipman in 1939, Sub Lieutenant in 1940 and 1st Lieutenant in 1942. He was stationed in Devonport during the war and was able to continue his swimming as part of the Royal Navy team.  He married Theodora Halward in Berkhamsted near the end of 1942, Theodora was from Watford. They had one daughter, Diana, who was born in 1945.

After the war he was stationed at Donibristle, Fife. He was killed on 26th February 1948 while piloting a Fireband aircraft on a routine test flight after an overhaul.

Blackburn Fireband with wings folded back for aircraft carrier storage

An eyewitness reported “I saw part of the plane drop off. It was one of the wings. I thought the pilot was trying to land in the field, but when it was about 20 or 40 feet from the ground, the plane blew up”. Peter had been stationed there for two years and was about to join the Empire test pilots’ course at Farnborough. He was 27 years old and left behind his wife and three-year-old daughter. His headstone reads “Youth cannot die, His veins thrilled with the Spring. To others Fate may bring the last decree. He, as he flew, passed Death upon the wing. Then deathless, rose to immortality”

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