Charles Courtenay Lloyd: The incredible life of Yorkshire's war hero who married a Russian princess

A war hero, intelligence officer, skilled linguist and school master, Charles Courtenay Lloyd lived a life of service to his country and to his beloved Yorkshire.

Now, as he is brought home to be laid to rest beside the Russian princess he married, his daughter is asking people to honour his memory at a memorial service to be held in Bradford Cathedral on Friday (May 6).

Masha Lloyd is determined to fill every seat in the cathedral. Her father died at her Madrid home in November at the age of 102.

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She said: “I’m bringing him back to the county he loved and the country he fought for. We must fill this cathedral in tribute to one of the last of his generation who did so much for Bradford and his country.

Charles Courtenay Lloyd helped liberate Norway in the Second World War, caught Nazi war criminals, married a Russian princess, taught spies, and taught languages at Bradford Grammar School

“There aren’t many veterans left. He didn’t talk about it – he would say ‘I wasn’t a hero’. He did a lot. He did so humbly, just getting on with it. They fought for our peace. We should never forget.”

Mr Lloyd moved to Madrid to live with his daughter in 2005 after the death of wife Elena in 1999 and his son George in 2001.

The son of a North Yorkshire vicar at Sledmere, Mr Lloyd had been educated at Clifton College, Bristol, and then Selwyn College, Cambridge, before his studies were interrupted by war.

He had a talent for languages and became a teacher of Russian in courses dubbed ‘spy school’, where he met and married Princess Elena Von Lieven, whose family had fled during the Russian Revolution.

Mr Lloyd is being buried next to his wife in Baildon

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Having enlisted in the Navy, he went on to serve an “illustrious” war, awarded the Liberty Medal for his part in the liberation of Norway. In Oslo, he helped supervise the surrender of German forces.

Then as an intelligence officer in Germany, he was involved in dismantling the Nazi regime and catching war criminals.

But it was as a teacher of languages at Bradford Grammar School from 1964 to 1983 that many remember him, with past pupils paying tribute to an “inspirational” teacher and “linguistic genius”.

Now many of his past students are to attend the memorial service at the cathedral. He will be laid to rest beside his beloved wife at Charlestown Cemetery, in Baildon.

Ms Lloyd said: “His country was England. It’s most fitting that this happens here. When he died, I came across an old envelope he had kept. It was a message from my mother, dated a month before they married.

“‘My darling Courtenay, I just wanted to tell you there is no happier girl than I’. He kept it all his life. He wanted to be with her, that was always meant to be. This is a chance to pay homage to him, and thank him, in a humble way, for all he did for this country and for Yorkshire.

“I don’t think he realised how much he influenced people,” Ms Lloyd added.

An invitation is extended to members of the public to pay tribute to Mr Lloyd at a memorial service at Bradford Cathedral from 10am on May 6.

The Royal Navy and the Queen’s representative, Deputy Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, are among those at the service, joining three generations of Mr Lloyd’s family. Also present will be Bradford Grammar School representatives. Canon Barrie Scott, a former pupil, will assist the service.