Capt H C C Tippet

According to the Daily Mail "Tippet's MC probably came with the rations. There was a period during the First War when MCs were handed out to officers for doing virtually nothing except being there, and his award falls into this category. "That he was in France, there can be no doubt. That he was brave, equally no doubt. But neither is there a special citation recording what he did to earn his medal."

One finds out a lot about Capt H C C Tippet post WW1 as he married the divorced Edith Shand, mother of Bruce Shand, who in turn was father to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Bruce Shand apparently never mentioned his mother, Camilla's grandmother. Her name was Edith. She was a bolter, an upwardly-mobile girl from humble origins who made a fortuitous marriage, but a woman who ultimately could not face the responsibility of parenting a child. She was born Edith Marguerite Harrington, a descendant of Essex farm labourers. When her father died prematurely, her mother gave her away, much as Edith was later to give away her own son, and she grew up with a family of strangers in the London suburb of Fulham. Despite the fact that the area was a run-down neighbourhood, it was a considerable step up from her humbler origins, and one which inspired a lively social ambition which was to propel her onwards and upwards through life.

Quite how Edith, a petite and pretty blue-eyed blonde, fell into the arms of a young Army officer called Philip Morton Shand remains a mystery. A womaniser, and from a different class, Shand had been to Eton and Cambridge and came from a wealthy background. He nevertheless succumbed to her charms and they married in 1916. But the marriage was over almost as soon as it began, leaving Edith at 22 with a baby but no husband. She had no hesitation in handing the child, Bruce, over to her parents-in-law. Her ex-husband's father, Alexander Shand, was a bohemian and a dilettante who wed a shipping heiress who was described by friends as "vague and hopeless" when it came to domestic matters. Victorians by birth and in outlook, the couple were in their early 60s when three-year-old Bruce arrived unexpectedly on their doorstep. They were to prove themselves inept at being surrogate parents, but there was no alternative.

His mother soon married again, to former Army officer Herbert Charles Coningsby Tippet. He was 29 to her 26 and was working as the manager of the lowly Ashford Manor Golf Club in Middlesex. Tippet had won the Military Cross in World War I and liked to style himself "Captain Tippet". But in the gloom of the post-war period, there were many captains, and many MCs, all chasing after non-existent jobs. Surveying the dire employment prospects across a shattered Britain, the Captain took the decision to follow up a contact he had made during his Army service and head for the U.S. with his new wife in tow.

America in the 1920s was still a young nation trying to forge an identity for itself: a place where anyone with a British accent and a plausible manner could survive and prosper. Among the nouveau riche and the upwardly-mobile entrepreneurial classes, it became the fashion to hire a British gentleman, especially when you needed to add tone to ventures which appealed to people's snobbery.Captain Tippet, MC, with his cut-glass accent, bristling moustache and tweeds, fitted the bill perfectly.

Arriving in the New World, the lady now known as Mrs Tippet set about transforming herself from Edith into Margot. In the middle years of the 20th century it was a fashionable name. Captain Tippet, a talented golfer in his own right, became secretary of the Meadowbrook Gold Club on fashionable Long Island. Before long, the Captain started to make a name for himself on the fairway and, in 1923, startled everyone by becoming runner-up in the Metropolitan Golf Championship, a hugely prestigious tournament.

With a sharp eye for design as well as for the ball, he soon became indispensable to Carl Graham Fisher, an inspirational figure who was famous for having created almost single-handedly the holiday resort of Miami Beach. Fisher, a rough diamond despite his brilliance, admired Tippet's English style and especially his English rose wife. The Captain was commissioned to design two Florida golf courses and such was the success of both that the two men moved north to try their luck on Long Island. With no thought of ever returning home to Britain, the Tippets lived in a series of rented homes without ever buying a place themselves, secure under the protection of the multi-millionaire Carl Fisher. However, the stock market crash of 1929 changed everything.

Tippet and Fisher managed to create one more golf club on Long Island, but then the American idyll was suddenly and brutally over. In an instant, British golf course designers with their pretty wives were a luxury very much surplus to requirement. Edith encouraged her husband to return to England where, as much on the size of his handicap as on his course-designing skills, he was appointed secretary of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club. Edith was able to settle down to a comfortable middle-class existence.

Back in England for good, she now tried to reacquaint herself with her abandoned son. But Bruce and his grandparents resisted her approaches. In his memoirs, Bruce Shand found no space to mention his mother, nor did he list her in his Who's Who entry.

However, he did coolly give a passing mention in his book to his stepfather Captain Tippet: "Although not a regular soldier, (he) had fought with gallantry in the 1914 war and had retained a taste for the Army, with considerable knowledge of its uniforms, history, and traditions."

Edith (still in her new guise of "Margot"), meanwhile, continued to play the part of dutiful wife, if not mother, following her husband when he transferred jobs to the Walton Heath golf course in 1937. She travelled with him to Ireland when he got freelance work designing a new golf course in County Waterford.

Captain Tippet rejoined the Army at the ootbreak of war, but was invalided out in 1943l.

By 1945, Charles Tippet had been given the job of reviving Rye Golf Club in East Sussex, but it proved too much; one day, after showing his friend the Bishop of Ely around the place, he collapsed and was found on the floor of his office. Edith was called, but two days later Captain Tippet was dead at the age of 56. The grace-and-favour cottage which went with the job disappeared. Edith Tippet died, almost unremarked, in 1981 just weeks before her granddaughter Camilla was driven to St Paul's Cathedral to witness her princely lover marrying the 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer.

Officers in 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers