Sam Youd was born 16 April 1922 in Lancashire. (His last name rhymes with crowd, not rude.) His father, Samuel—different than his son’s name, which was just Sam—worked in a factory. His mother, Harriet, had a hard-luck life: she had been widowed three times (and had three children) by the time she gave birth to Sam. Harriet was the head cook at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Sam was the couple’s only child.
Youd attended Peter Symonds School (now College), in Winchester. When he was confirmed the the Church of England, he took the first name Christopher. Shortly after he finished school, he enlisted in the Royal Corps of Signals and was stationed in Gibraltar, North Africa, and Italy. In 1947, he married the Joyce Fairbairn. They would have five children, one son and four daughters. Immediately after the war, and just after his marriage, he tried to make a living on writing alone, but the few sales were not enough for material support and so he took a job doing publicity for the Diamond Corporation. The work was in contradiction to his personality, which was private and opposed to author’s acting as publicists for their own work. (That made them actors and actresses, he thought, not writers.)