After graduating from Cambridge, Lucas was interviewed by Lord Beaverbrook for a post on the Sunday Express. He impressed Beaverbrook sufficiently that the publisher took him to supper that night and later hired him as a sports writer. He remained with the Sunday Express until the outbreak of war, when he volunteered for the Royal Air Force (RAF).
Royal Air Force
Lucas joined the RAF in June 1940 and went to Canada to undertake flying training at the Flying Training School as part of Empire Training. On completion of his training, he was assigned to 66 Squadron in August 1941, based in Cornwall, where he flew a Spitfire on convoy patrols. He sought a transfer to Burma for more action, but ended up at Malta instead, arriving there in February 1942. During the Battle of Malta, he commanded 249 Squadron.
Acting Squadron Leader Percy Belgrave LUCAS (100626), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 249 Squadron
In July, 1942, Squadron Leader Lucas displayed great courage in an engagement against 3 bombers escorted by 14 fighters. He unhesitatingly led his squadron through the enemy's fighter escort and, diving down, they destroyed all 3 bombers, 2 of them falling in flames. Squadron Leader Lucas has destroyed 3 hostile aircraft and damaged 7 others.
In the autumn of 1942, Lucas was assigned as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Kent, but gave it up to his friend Michael Strutt, who was already acquainted with the duke. Two weeks later, on 25 August 1942, both were killed in an air crash when the Short Sunderland flying boat in which he was also a passenger crashed into a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, in bad weather. This tragedy troubled Lucas.
In 1943, he took command of 616 Squadron; later, he commanded the Spitfire wing at RAF Coltishall. After an imposed rest period on ground duties, "flying a desk", in December 1944 Lucas asked to be given charge of an operational squadron again. After re-training on the two-crew Mosquito, Lucas took over command of 613 Squadron (City of Manchester) equipped with Mosquitos and based at Cambrai-Épinoy in the Ardennes. He immediately resumed his practice of "leading from the front", which gained the respect of the highly experienced squadron air crews. The squadron was involved in low-level tactical support missions and strikes. Between 1944 and 1945, he served with RAF Second Tactical Air Force in North-West Europe.
Acting Wing Commander Percy Belgrave LUCAS, DFC (100626), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Within the past few months this officer has led his fighter squadron a large number of varied sorties including escorts to bomber formations which have attacked enemy shipping with much success. In all these operations, 13 enemy air-craft [sic] have been destroyed and several others damaged. Much of the success can be attributed to this officer's great skill and gallant leadership. He has rendered most valuable service.
He was awarded a bar to his DSO in October 1945 for making numerous attacks on enemy communications, often in appalling weather conditions.
He resigned his commission in 1945.
After the war, he was encouraged to fight the 1945 general election as a Conservative and stood for Fulham West, where he lost to the sitting Member of Parliament (MP), Edith Summerskill, one of Labour's most prominent women in government following their landslide. At the 1950 general election, he was elected as Conservative MP for Brentford and Chiswick. He held the seat at the next two elections, but retired at the 1959 general election.
He wrote a popular column for the Sunday Express, and authored several books on golf and airmen around the world, as well as an idiosyncratic but much-admired history of the Second World War Siege of Malta.
Lucas captained the 1947 and 1949 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team. After the war, he was an administrator on the Sports Council. Although an amateur, he was influential in the founding of the professional tour in Europe in the early 1970s. At the time of his death, he was serving as a vice-president of both the Golf Foundation and the Association of Golf Writers.
He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1981.