John Lord. Brighton policeman.

RSM John Lord
Mrs Babs Reid
RSM Lord at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial, 1945.

Chief Inspector Bill Flack, of the Brighton Police (“one of the finest types of British policeman you could ever find”). “There was always a drop in the crime wave when PC Lord was on duty,” he declared.

John Lord was born on the 26th April 1908 in Southport, Lancashire. He was enlisted into the 3rd Grenadier Guards on the 27th March 1933, then posted to Egypt on 14th November 1933, where he remained until 8th April 1936. He left the British Army on the 26th March 1937, and two days later joined the Brighton Police Force. He served with them until the 3rd December 1939, rejoining the Grenadier Guards on the following day.

Whilst a policeman he received a commendation from the Portsmouth magistrates for his arrest of two motorcycle thieves. He also played rugby football for Brighton and Sussex.

Lord qualified as a parachutist on the 30th November 1941 and was posted, as Regimental Sergeant Major, to the newly formed 3rd Parachute Battalion. With them he participated in the operations in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

At Arnhem, shortly after Major-General Urquhart found himself cut-off with the 3rd Battalion on Sunday 17th September, RSM Lord appointed himself as the General’s bodyguard. Urquhart later wrote: “As I came out into the road, I found myself accompanied by a massive shape which turned out to be the 3rd Battalion’s RSM, a six feet two inches Grenadier named Lord. ‘From now on, sir,’ he informed me, ‘I’m your bodyguard.’ Not even Generals like to admit that they need protection, and I gave some nonchalant response; nevertheless I found his presence rather reassuring.”

On the following day, RSM Lord was still with Urquhart and “B” Company when they were trapped in Arnhem. As they waited for the cover of darkness before moving on, a party of Germans, unaware of the close proximity of the British, placed themselves in perfect view of their position. Several of the soldiers were keen to open fire on them, but Major Bush ordered them not to. RSM Lord was present and was in complete agreement with him; it would have been folly to begin an unnecessary skirmish and risk serious retaliation when the General and Brigadier Lathbury were in the same building. 

RSM Lord was captured on Thursday 21st September. He was taken, along with a great number of other Arnhem survivors, to Stalag XIB at Fallingbostel. The camp was in a desperate condition at the time, but RSM Lord immediately took over its administration and worked ceaselessly to improve it until liberation on the 27th April 1945. In honour of this, and his excellent service throughout the War, RSM Lord was made a Member of the British Empire:

RSM Lord joined the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as RSM on its first formation in September 1941, and held this appointment until he was wounded and captured at Arnhem in September 1944. During this period he has earned himself a great reputation in his Battalion and in the 1st Parachute Brigade. At the beginning it was largely due to this Warrant Officer’s drive and character that men from over fifty different Regiments were soon welded into a first class Battalion with a fine Esprit de Corps. RSM Lord served with distinction throughout the North African campaign in the winter of 1942/1943 and his gallantry in action was always an example to the Battalion. During a difficult period which followed, caused by certain changes in command, it was largely due to this Warrant Officer’s unswerving loyalty and devotion to duty that the Battalion was unaffected. Later, he fought with gallantry in Sicily and at Arnhem, where he was wounded and taken prisoner. Ultimately he was sent to Stalag XIB where he soon showed himself to be the outstanding personality of the Camp and where he did fine work in maintaining a high state of morale amongst the prisoners. Officers and men arriving at the Camp were astonished by the excellent bearing and turnout of the prisoners. RSM Lord has served under my command almost continuously since the formation of the 1st Parachute Brigade, and during this time, he has shown a standard of loyalty, drive and devotion to duty which it would be hard to equal.

John Lord became Regimental Sergeant Major to the New College Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in September 1947, becoming RSM at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in September 1948. He retired on the 1st September 1963, after 15 years as the R.S.M. of Sandhurst. He died on the 21st January 1968 at Camberley, Surrey.

Our thanks to Mrs Babs Reid

Secretary, Grenadier Guards Association, Surrey & East Hampshire Branch

71 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants, GU12 6EA

Telephone: 01252 316757       Email: babsgga@gmail.com

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