Lawrence Strangman

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Captain Lawrence Strangman
Life dates
11 May 1907 - 15 Feb 1980
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Born in India, he was Baptised in St Thomas Cathedral in Bombay.

He attended Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1925. Cyril Stears of Cranbrook Patrol recalled that he had a rowing Blue from his time there.

In 1927 he was briefly Gazetted as Pilot Officer on probation, Class A.A., General Duties Branch, Reserve of Air Force Officers, between 14 March and 15th April, possibly as part of the University Squadron.

His mother, Winifred Warnedord Strangman, 28 Feb 1874 to 26 Jun 1955, has a memorial in St Michael and All Angels Church Highworth, Wiltshire, home to the Auxiliary Units Headquarters. Perhaps the address “c/o GPO Highworth”, first attracted Lawrence to apply for Auxiliary Units service? His father, Sir Thomas Joseph Strangman, was a Barrister who spent most of his life in India. He is perhaps most famous as the first lawyer to successfully prosecute Gandhi. By the time of the Second World War he had returned to the UK and was a bencher at Lincolns Inn.

Lawrence apparently joined Auxiliary Units by Jan 1942 as a Scout Section Officer in charge of the West Kent Scout Section. He would most likely have attended a week long course for Scout Section Officers at Coleshill House during this time.

Subsequently he moved to Somerset when appointed Intelligence Officer (IO) for the county, succeeding Captain Ian Fenwick. He was promoted Temporary Captain on 15 December 1942, though was using the title from October. He was Somerset's IO from October 1942 until August 1943. The Beatrice Temple Diary records a meeting with the Special Duties ATS commander, Captain Fenwick and Special Duties IO Captain Coxwell-Rogers on 3 January 1943, suggesting a handover period between the Somerset IOs.

He then moved to Suffolk, taking over as Intelligence Officer there, until the role ceased to exist in the latter half of 1944. 

His military service after Auxiliary Units is unknown. He was listed a specially employed in the Army List until the second quarter of 1944.

He relinquished his commission on 1 January 1945 on account of disability (unstated).

He was a noted collector of rare books and a member of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society. The sale of his collection by Sotheby's in 1965 took three days, with the better part of the total donated by his niece to Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. Books from his collection still appear regularly for sale, identified by his bookplates.

Unit or location Role Posted from until
West Kent Scout Section Scout Section Commander Unknown 1942
Sherwood, Goathurst, Somerset Intelligence Officer 06 Oct 1942 09 Mar 1943
Somerset Intelligence Officer 06 Oct 1942 25 Aug 1943
Suffolk Intelligence Officer 04 Sep 1943 03 Dec 1944

Charterhouse. Trinity College, Cambridge, 1925-1928 (BA 1928)

The Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Military number
Commissioned or Enlisted
19 Oct 1940

Commission in Class A.A., General Duties Branch, as Pilot Officer on probation, Reserve of Air Force Officers, on 14th March 1927. (London Gazette 29 March 1927.)

Sherwood House, Goatshurst, Somerset
Other information

His younger brother was James Gonville Thomas Joseph Strangman, 81853 commissioned in the RAF on 15th July 1940 (London Gazette 30 July 1940.) James Gonville resigned his commission on 25th September 1944, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader (London Gazette 7 November 1944). Gonville was apparently a very awkward customer, and the two brothers did not get on.

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Caption & credit
TNA ref WO199/3265-Strangman at Sherwood, Somerset