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Peter Haycraft Dibdin
born 26th Feb 1913 
Brought up at Avondale, 79 Grosvenor Ave Carshalton Surrey
died on 28 September 1943
on active service.
Commonwealth War Grave

Other articles about Peter and his life.

Peter's life with cars and holidays

Peter Haycraft Dibdin in World War 2

Peter Dibdin's Museum 

Peter Dibdin's Photographs

Link to Graves and Headstones  
Peter is listed on the family grave and has his own War Grave in the same cemetery 

Details of Family Burials 

Traumatic Years - A short article covering life for Peter and Joan Dibdin just after the death of their parents.

Peter was born in 1913 the second son of Lionel and Cecily Dibdin. His older brother, Stanley who was born in 1910, died when Peter was four years old. 
Brought up at Avondale in Wallingford, He was educated at Epson College having spent his early years at  Elstree School Carsharlton or Elstree Park Hill Carshalton Kindergarten and Preparatory School for Boys, following on from his older brother Stanley.  There are reports for both boys from this Prep School.

On 9 Feb 1929 there is a letter from Lionel – sorry to hear of Peter’s broken bones and being in Hospital somewhere near Sutton Common Road. Lionel was hoping to drop in and see him.

It seems safe to assume that Peter was in fact a border at Epson college.

On 31 July 1930 Lionel signed a form giving permission to Epson College for Peter to  fly with the cadets. Peter was 17 years old – this was 3 years before both Lionel and Cecily died in plane crash.

From the age of 21 he took considerable interest in stocks and share and in July 1935 he bought 4 Houses in Sutton as investment properties. These and other investments were inherited by his sister Joan (Dibdin) Guise on his death.


He was sociable individual who enjoyed life.
He was a member of following clubs:
The £oyal Society of Dartsmen
Sutton Rugby Football Club
Sutton Football Club
Sutton Hard Court Club
Sutton Lawn Tennis Club

Peter was a prolific photographer and did much of the processing himself. This would have been something passed on from his Grandfather, William Joseph Dibdin, who spent much time in the early days of photography striving to produce high quality results.


Amongst his work as a student in estate management are examples of his portrait drawing and painting. He like his father and ancestors was obviously talented in this field as well as music.

The outbreak of War meant that Peter was called up and during the war he worked as an Engineer, stationed at various locations in south England

The few of Peter's diaries that we have,  give some insight into involvement with cars at the time when few people would have owned one. Other entries are interesting such as  in Feb 1932, he had Flu.

On Aug 21 - year unknown, there is a letter from Cecily at Glenside Saltburn where her sister, Edith, lived and worked at a headmistress,  to Peter:
"Cecily and Lionel had journeyed by train to Leeds via Harrogate Ripon and to Darlington. Joan was at Heathercot Castleton (North Yorkshire) Lionel was to train south and then drive to Porthcawl Glamorgan and back to the Lake district where Cecily would meet him."The reference to Porthcawl is interesting as it may have been a holiday destination for the family or it may have been to do with a work project. This letter must have been dated in the early 1930's.

Amongst the letters,  is one significantly loving letter from Rosie in Maesteg, staying at Bridgend Glam. on 9th July 1941 with a reference to Porthcawl, pouring out a flow of concern for Peter during the war.

It may be conjecture but this letter and some photographs are the only indication that Peter may have had a girl friend at any time.

See the  Peter's Albums for more relevant photos

 This maybe Rosie

In 1933 his parents Cecily and Lionel were killed in a plane crash.

Because the wills did not cover this eventually adequately Peter and Joan were not only left as orphans but also under the control of the Public Trustees. The impact of this is documented in an article "Traumatic Years" which discusses how Peter had no control at the time as he was just under 21 and Joan had no parenting to speak of. Contrary to good sense, Avondale, their home was sold  in 1934 for the sum of £1150.

Peter moved to East Court Woodmansterne Lane Banstead Surrey and Joan was in effect homeless living either at boarding school in Bexhill or with Aunt Edith in Saltburn and then Castleton in North Yorkshire. A letter indicates that this arrangement was not really reliable.

Joan used to mention how she and her seven year older brother, never, in childhood, got on well however is noted with interest how Peter fought her corner against Aunt Edith with regard to Joan’s choice of career and training once she left school. Some of the letters from Edith were quite aggressive. Joan used to say how well she and Peter related during the war and it was through Peter and her cousin, Don Haycraft, that she was introduced to the Guise Family in 1941. During that period Peter bought a grand piano for £10 and this lived at 4 Pinfold Road, the Guise household, until it was moved to Cumberland, Joan’s farmhouse in about 1985. 

Once he became of age at twenty he then had to take on for some seven years responsibility with the public trustees for the financial affair of Joan dealing with issues such as the cost of her schooling as well as ensuring that her day to day monetary needs were satisfied.

Not only did  Grandma Haycraft   tell the Public Trustees that she could not act as guardian but in Oct 1934 she wrote to explain that only immediately before Lionel and Cecily’s death had she received the interest on the £200 that she had lent her daughter in 1914.

Peter lived a full life before his parents death and despite his increased responsibilities he continued t olive at quite a pace. His involvement with cars is documented in a separate section and  was a member of number of sports clubs. 

In June 1935 Peter bought, at auction 4 houses at Whittaker Road,  Nos. 24,26,54,56, in Sutton as investment properties. He had probably inherited stocks and shares from Lionel and seemed to actively run quite a portfolio. It seems that both Peter and Joan were used to a fairly well to do lifestyle and this is supported by Peter's expenditure on cars and receipts from Austin Reed and such like suppliers.

He was involved in the family grave at Carshalton and no doubt had been involved in the funeral and internment of his parents. In Aug- Oct 1937 Peter was concerned about the state of the memorial grave at Carshalton and asked the verger Mr Saunders if he would tidy things up and sent him money for the attendance of the grave.

Coupled with his motoring activities which included at least one driving rally around England and Wales, were his two continental holidays in 1936 and 1937, on both of which it is understood he was accompanied by his boyhood next door neighbour David Muir. See the details of these holidays on webpage Peter's life with cars and holidays. Working for a government department as he was, this may have been significant at such a dates so close to the beginning of the war.

As war approached in 1938 he joined the Territorial Army and Peter enlisted in TA 11 May 1939 for 4 years – signing on 1st Sept 1939. From his work diary 1939,  appointments stopped 24 Aug 1939  (War started Sept 1st)

Peter at Work

At the age of 18, Peter joined his father's property company at 18 Mulgrave Road in Sutton and on 1 June 1931 he was articled to Lionel at a cost £1-0-0

See details in Peter's Museum - Work

There is a document about Indentures to his Father on 1st June 1931 at 18 Mulgrave Rd Sutton for three years. He studied with British Tutorial Institute, the President of which was coincidentally Sir Robert Dibdin JP. He took exams for The Chartered Surveyor’s Institution and exams for College of Estate Management. 

Tragically in 1933 before he completely his indentures his Father and Mother died in a plane crash 
Before he reach the age of 21 and obviously in a very vulnerable situation.

One must assume that he was not settled in his late Fathers company and the suggestion is that he did not inherit a position as a partner which probably would have happened under Lionel.

In September 1933, 6 months after the death of his father Peter contacted Quintana & Co Chartered Surveyors in Eccleston Sq with a view to becoming an Articled Pupil. Peter must have had a reason to be fed up with what was happening at Dibdin’s in Sutton. It would seem that Peter had done work with Quintana & Co and so was in a position to approach they about work and pupilage. However he did stay and on 2nd Oct 1933 he was Articled to Maurice Andrews, 18 Mulgrave Rd Sutton for 2 years at the cost of £140.0.0  as a pupil Chartered Surveyor. On 2nd October 1935 he completed Articles.

The fact that his father's partners charged Peter £140 for pupilage compared with the £1 charge earlier by his father must be and indication of the level of relationship.

Peter did stay with them until he completed his time in 1935 and then he was looking for employment elsewhere once his “indentures” were finished. He immediately joined the Civil Service working for the Crownlands Office of Commissioners, 55 Whitehall.

At this time Peter was getting advice from his Uncle Rex, a wise old member of the Dibdin Family who was always very supportive to both Peter and Joan and receiving letters from a close friend of the family from Nigeria.

From a letter / card  to G. Kingsnorth in Nigeria, written before Christmas 1935.

Sadly the letter was returned as Kingsnorth had died after a severe operation on the 20th December 1935 – Information obtained from the Crown Agents.
What is significant from this letter is that by the end of 1935 Peter had moved from the firm that he was with before not actually referring to Dibdin and Ptns where he was apprenticed to his father before the tragedy in 1933. Peter was now working with the Commissioner of Crown Lands in Whitehall at 2 guineas a week which was better than before.  He was looking out for something better but The Institute of Surveyors rate is only £5 pw. so thinking about looking abroad. He came down in the exams but thinks it best to continue.
There are previous letters in the archive to Lionel and Cecily from Northy in Africa.

30 April 1936 Peter asked for a raise having being in the dept. since Oct 1935
For some reason, presumable indentures Peter was exempt  from National Insurance Nov 33 to Nov 38

 The War Years.

Peter joined up at the beginning of the war and work with the Royal Engineers. The little we know of his time in the war is noted in his section of the article on the Family at War.

A note in Joan’s diary refers to her worry about how unhappy he seemed to have been at one point during the war.
He died in some form of tragic accident while on duty near Lymington on Sea. It is understood that a lorry backed into him. Tony, Joan's husband was involved in communications with the hospital where Peter was taken.

 Excerpt from a letter from Peter's Uncle Joe in America.

I have just received from Garnett your letter telling of Peter’s death. I am very thankful that you wrote at once as we have been thinking very often about him and wondering in what part of the fight he was, how he was getting along and the many possibilities.

To say that we knew he was in it is superfluous, we know the breed too well. That he fought gallantly goes without saying, we over here know that nothing else was possible to him. But will you tell Joan for me just this. When Lionel and Cecily were lost, I wrote to Peter something of how I felt. In that letter I tried to show him something of the intense pride I felt in having had for a brother such a very gallant gentleman. I wish her to know that I have the same pride in Peter. I know, nobody better, what is the full meaning of “serving the guns” It is something I can never forget and there is no greater test that a man can be put to. So again and so many times gone by I have to count off one more on the score started in 1914, this time the hardest, the last of the direct male line.

Old chap after going through so many risks myself, I wonder “why”. But it’s a terribly heavy score.

See Letter from Joe to Rex for complete text.  as PDF      as Word file

Yet another sadness caused by war that here was a person that would have being interesting to know and great uncle to have had, died so early in life.
It has been reported by Adrian Montford, his cousin and son of Paul Montford and Marian Dibdin that he was a very likeable person who one always looked forward to seeing.