Peter Stanford


William Robinson Clarke

‘Young officer rose to the top of the Royal Navy’

1929- 1991

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When The Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica published a story on June 12, 1948, headlined ‘Windrush Disaster Rumours’, suggesting the Empire Windrush had sunk, not only must the families of passengers have been concerned for the well-being of their loved ones but the Royal Navy might have feared that a whole generation of future leaders had been wiped out as the ship was carrying a number of young officers back to England. Fortunately, the rumours proved unfounded and those officers on board went on to reach great heights as their careers progressed.

Among them was Peter Maxwell Stanford, who boarded the ship in Bermuda alongside senior members of the force. From being commissioned into the Royal Navy in the 1940s, he would rise swiftly through the ranks becoming an admiral in 1984. He received a knighthood in 1983.

Born in Simla, Punjab, India, on July 11, 1929 he was the son of Brigadier Henry Morrant Stanford from Kent and Edith, née Warren, a member of a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. Edith’s father died in 1901 and three years later she and her family came to England where they lived in style at the 29-room Shaw Hill House in Melksham, Wiltshire.

Peter and his younger brother, William, spent their early years in Bombay (Mumbai), returning to England with their mother in 1936. Peter was educated at Rottingdean public school in East Sussex. In 1943 he passed a common entrance

examination to be accepted as a naval cadet. In June 1947, he left the Royal Navy Gunnery School in Chatham, Kent, to sail to New York en route to HMS Kenya in Bermuda.

In 1957, he married Helen Ann Lingard in London. As befitting their social standing, Peter and Helen’s forthcoming marriage was announced in The Tatler on January 30 of that year along with a large photograph of Helen.

Like Peter, Helen had spent time abroad as a child. Tragedy struck when her father, Henry, died in Siam (Thailand) in 1935. The family returned without Henry but did have the addition of his two-year-old son, John.

Peter and Helen went on to have one son and two daughters.

Peter was promoted to lieutenant commander in February 1958, progressing to vice-admiral in 1982, going on to be vice-chief of the naval staff. After his promotion to admiral in 1984 he was made commander-in-chief naval home command before retiring in 1987. He died in Hambledon, Hampshire on May 22, 1991, aged 61. His full title at the time of his death was Admiral Sir Peter Maxwell Stanford GCB, LVO.

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