- Peter Townsend (RAF officer)
Group CaptainPeter Wooldridge Townsend, CVO, DSO, DFC and Bar, RAF ( November 22, 1914– June 19, 1995) was Equerryto King George VI 1944–1952 and held the same position for Queen Elizabeth II 1952–1953.
He was born 1914 in
Rangoon, Burmaand educated at Haileybury School. He joined the Royal Air Forcein 1933, and trained at Cranwell. He served in Training Command, and as a flying instructor at RAF Montrose. He was stationed at RAF Tangmerein 1937. By 1940, now a Squadron Leader, he was attached to No. 43 Squadron RAF. He was a Wing Commander on Night Operations, at RAF Hunsdonfrom 1941, and became Commanding Officer RAF Drewand No. 611 Squadron RAF, a Spitfire unit.
July 17, 1941he married (Cecil) Rosemary Pawle (1921–2004) with whom he had two sons, Giles (b. 1942) and Hugo (b. 1945). They divorced in 1952 and Rosemary later married John de László (son of the painter Philip de László) and became the third wife of the 5th Marquess Camden in 1978.
Townsend was one of the notable pilots of the
Battle of Britainserving through the Battle as CO of No. 85 Squadron RAFwhich flew Hawker Hurricanes, continuing to lead the unit even after being wounded in action.
Townsend was later leader of
No. 605 Squadron RAF, a night fighterunit, and attended the staff collegefrom October 1942. In January 1943 he was appointed Commanding Officer of RAF West Malling. He was promoted Group Captainin 1948.
In 1944 he was appointed temporary
Equerryto His MajestyThe King. In the same year the appointment was made permanent, and he served until 1953, when he became Extra Equerry, an honorary office he held until his death. In August 1950 he was made Deputy Master of the Household, and was moved to Comptrollerto the Queen Mother in 1952. He retired from the Royal Householdin the next year, and was air attachéin Brussels1953 to 1956.
Group Captain Townsend is best known for his ill-fated romance with Princess Margaret. Despite his distinguished career, as a divorced man, there was no chance of marriage with the princess, and their relationship caused enormous controversy in the early 1950s. He later married a Belgian woman, Marie-Luce Jamagne.
He was one of several military advisors to the 1969 film "Battle of Britain".
Peter Townsend spent much of his later years writing non-fiction books. Books by Peter Townsend include "Earth My Friend" (about driving/boating around the world alone in the mid 1950s) "Duel of Eagles," (about the
Battle of Britain), "The Odds Against Us (also known as "Duel in the Dark") (about fighting Luftwaffenight bombers in 1940-1941), "The Last Emperor" (A biography of King George VI), "The Girl in the White Ship" (about a young refugeefrom Vietnamin the late 1970s who was the sole survivor of her ship of refugees) and "The Postman of Nagasaki" (about the atomic bombingof Nagasaki), and "Time and Chance", (an autobiography). He also wrote many small articles and contributed to other books.He was a CVO (1947), DSO (1941), and DFC (1940 and bar). Townsend died 1995 in Rambouillet, France.
His son Giles Townsend is President of the "Cambridge Bomber and Fighter Society"; his son Hugo Townsend is married to
Yolande, Princesse de Ligne.
* [http://www.battle-of-britain.com/BoB2/Battle_personnel/Profiles/RAF/townsend.htm Biography]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0870177/ Peter Townsend at the Internet Movie Database]
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