b. 18/10/1913 Cork, Ireland. d. 19/09/1944 Arnhem, Holland.
David Samuel Anthony Lord (1913-1944) was born in Cork, Ireland on 18th October 1913, the son of a serving Warrant Officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers called Samuel Heaton Lord, and his wife, Mary Ellen (nee Miller). He had two brothers, though sadly one died as an infant. David received his first schooling at the Lucknow Convent School in India and, on returning to England, continued his academic education at St Mary’s School, Wrexham. He next attended St Mary’s College, Aberystwyth, from where he matriculated to the University of Wales.
On leaving university, he made a decision which might well have altered his future; he entered the English Ecclesiastical College at Vallodolid, Spain, with the intention of studying philosophy and eventually entering the priesthood. It was no casual decision but an extension of a childhood ambition. However, after two years he decided he had not found his vocation and therefore returned to Wrexham, where he took up temporary employment as assistant to a chemist. In his spare time, he tried his hand as a writer, having several short stories published, and then travelled to London to become a freelance journalist.
Finally, on 6th August 1936, he enlisted as an airman in the RAF. He was quickly promoted to Corporal in August 1938 followed by an application for pilot training. He began his training at EFTS, Hamble on 6th October 1938. He was eventually awarded his “wings” on 5th April 1939 and promoted to Sergeant on 8th August, with orders to join 31 Squadron at Lahore, India; arriving on his first unit on 7th October 1939. On 31 Squadron Lord was introduced to the Vickers Valentia – an almost obsolete biplane. It was not until June 1941, the unit received modern replacements for their Vickers aircraft. Their new planes were the Dougals DC-2 transport Dakotas.
Lord, promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1st April 1941, and to Warrant Officer on 1st October 1941, soon “converted” to the new monoplane “Daks”, becoming a qualified DC-2K Captain in December. Meanwhile, the war situation in North Africa saw reinforcements needed, and in October 1941, 31 Squadron detached 8 Dakotas and their crews to support land operations in Egypt and Libya; one of the skippers being David Lord. The detachment lasted four months and was not without incident. Returning to India in February 1942, he continued the daily routine of supply and communication flying and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 12th May, flying the new DC-3’s.
Lord then spent the rest of 1943 flying supply missions over Burma, and was mentioned in despatches. On 16th July 1943, he was awarded the DFC for his actions over Burma. In December 1943, “Lummee” as he was now nicknamed, returned to England, and after four years of operational flying was given the acting rank of Flight Lieutenant in January 1944.
After a short period of leave, he was posted to 271 Squadron at Doncaster, and was involved in the preparations for D-Day, prior to the plans being drawn up for Operation Market Garden, with the date set for the middle of September 1944.
On 19th September 1944 during the Battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, the British 1st Airborne Division was in desperate need of supplies. Flight Lieutenant Lord, flying Dakota III KG374 through intense enemy anti-aircraft fire was twice hit and had one engine burning. He managed to drop his supplies, but at the end of the run found that there were two containers remaining. Although he knew that one of his wings might collapse at any moment he nevertheless made a second run to drop the last supplies, then ordered his crew to bail out. A few seconds later the Dakota crashed in flames with its pilot and six crew.
Lord was buried with full honours in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, and after some of the 10th Parachute Regiment POW’s were repatriated to Britain, the full report of Lord’s actions over Arnhem became known, and a recommendation for Lord to receive a posthumous VC. This was approved and the citation was announced on 13th November 1945. Lord’s parents received the VC at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 18th December 1945. Lord’s medal group including his VC and DFC were sold at a Spink’s auction in London in 1997, and purchased by Michael Ashcroft. They are now part of the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ARNHEM OOSTERBEEK CEMETERY, ARNHEM, HOLLAND.
David Lord's medals including VC and DFC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT IV, ROW B, GRAVE 5.
St Mary's Cathedral, Wrexham
Lord VC Memorial, Wrexham
Down Ampney Church Window
St Clements Danes RAF Memorial, Aldwych
Roy Nockolds Painting of Lord VC over Arnhem