Peter Mogford, who has died aged 95, had a distinguished and varied army career in the Second World War. Born in Southend-on-Sea on 18 October 1919, he completed his education at Magdalen School, Oxford, where he excelled in rowing, boxing and rugby. He sensed that war with Hitler was inevitable and before war was declared he enlisted with the army at Cowley Barracks, Oxford, selected for training at Bulford Barracks and commissioned as second lieutenant with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. After beginning his campaigning in Belgium, he eventually found himself fighting in the theatre of Dunkirk. After being pushed back by the Germans, his section was ordered to hold the front line whilst the evacuation was proceeding and the Germans were advancing. This was especially tough as his men listened to a BBC World Service report saying the Dunkirk evacuation had been completed! At just 20 years of age, he had the difficulty of holding his Geordie contingent in the front line position when they all knew they were not going to get off the beach. However, at the last minute, they received a change of orders to evacuate and managed to leave on one of the last boats, the Medway Queen, with considerable relief!
Peter Mogford’s family became well-known hoteliers and during the war they lived at the Red Lion Hotel in High Wycombe, made famous by Winston Churchill delivering a speech standing alongside the life-size red lion prominently mounted on the hotel portico. Coincidently, after Dunkirk, the train delivering Mogford to Catterick Camp on 2 June 1940 passed through High Wycombe and whilst he was asleep, a fellow soldier threw a screwed up scrap of paper onto the platform saying ‘Mogford is safe’. The station master picked it up and delivered it to his worried mother at the hotel. Rosa Mogford had had no word of her son since he first left for Europe.
Eventually Peter rose to the rank of Major after serving in North Africa, Cyprus, Italy and India. He tragically lost two brothers during the war. Lewis died in Chittagong in July 1944 and Gerald died in October 1944 near Rimini, Italy.
After the war, Peter Mogford became a director of the family company, which operated hotels in High Wycombe, the Runneymede in Egham, the White Hart, Sonning, Christopher Wren’s Great House, Windsor, along with hotels in Torquay, Paignton and Newton Abbot in Devon. Over the years, he was a councillor, a Guarantor for the Annual Dinner for the Old People of High Wycombe, the Worshipful Master of Hughenden Lodge and President of the local Dunkirk Veteran’s Association. He was instrumental in raising the money and organising the permanent Dunkirk memorial rock which is strikingly located in the centre of the town.
Married in 1946, Peter Mogford is survived by his wife Pamela, two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.