After his father’s death in World War I, Robert Worley was brought up by his widowed mother in the village of Brigstock, set in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire. He attended the village school and left at the age of fourteen in 1932, a time of mass unemployment.
With encouragement, and a testimonial from the headmaster, he obtained a position as office boy at a firm of accountants in Northampton. His mother worked at her dressmaking to pay for his lodgings in Northampton and he qualified in 1939. Thereafter he was conscripted by the Army, and served as a Wireless Instructor at Catterick, and later at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.