David Lord

David Lord's grave at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Flight Lieutenant David Samuel Anthony Lord VC, DFC


Unit : 271 Squadron, 46 Group

Service No. : 49149

Awards : Victoria Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross


Born on 18th October 1913, in Cork, Southern Ireland, Flight Lieutenant "Lummy" Lord was a distinguished 31 year old Dakota pilot with 271 Squadron, who flew resupply missions to Arnhem. He had previously flown similar missions using DC3's with 31 Squadron in India, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Burma. In July 1943, his extensive service record was mentioned in dispatches, and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.


On Tuesday 19th, while on the final approach to the drop zones and only three minutes away from them, heavy anti-aircraft fire tore into the wave of slow moving supply aircraft. Lord's plane received two hits on the starboard wing and the engine on that side burst into flames. At such a low height there was no way to extinguish such a fire, and so the only real option in such a situation would be to abandon the attempt to drop supplies and bail out before the fuel tanks exploded. However Lord refused to do so, and kept flying true and steady to make sure he dropped his supplies on target. With his aircraft clearly in dire trouble, Lord was singled out for attention by most every German anti-aircraft gun in the vicinity. He continued on his path and reached the drop zone. After completing his run, Lord was informed by his calm and highly disciplined crew (three RAF personnel and four Army despatchers) that two canisters of supplies still remained. Lord turned the aircraft around for a second pass over the dropping zone, still under intense fire. When all the supplies were at last dropped, and the aircraft had descended to the perilously low height of only 500 feet, Lord cried to his men "Bail out! Bail out! For God's sake, bail out!", while making absolutely no effort to do so himself. A few seconds later, the starboard wing exploded and the plane crashed in flames into the ground, just north of the Reijers-Camp farm on LZ-S. There was only one survivor, Flying Officer Harry King, who was blown out of the side door when the engine exploded. King himself landed in no man's land between the British and Germans, but he managed to find the 10th Battalion and stayed with them until eventually captured.


The sight of Lord's crippled aircraft was witnessed by troops on the ground, who were so mesmerized by this single plane that they stood up in their trenches to will it on. They were all highly moved, in some cases to tears, by this tremendous display of courage and self sacrifice on their behalf. With flames licking wildly under the fuselage, many men were pleading with the crew to jump, but they would not, and instead the despatchers were seen to be continually throwing out more supply containers until the wing collapsed.


From the point that the engine caught fire to the moment of the crash, Flight Lieutenant Lord flew his Dakota, steadily while under very heavy anti-aircraft fire, for a total of 8 minutes. For his suicidal bravery and single-minded determination to get the supplies to those who needed it, David Lord was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. The great tragedy of this story was that the supply dropping zones had been overrun by German troops. Due to the radio blackout, the RAF knew nothing of this, and so David Lord and his men gave their lives desperately trying to drop cargo that would end up in the hands of the enemy.


See also: Ft Mechanic Hartley.

Offsite links: Flt. Lt. David S. A. Lord VC DFC


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