RSM John Lord

RSM Lord at Stalag XIB

RSM Lord shortly after the liberation of Stalag XIB

RSM John Lord

RSM John Lord

Regimental Sergeant Major John Clifford Lord


Unit : Headquarters, 3rd Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 2613527

Awards : Member of the British Empire


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.


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.


The following obituary appeared in a newspaper:


'The Voice' of Sandhurst died at 59

FORMER RSM JOHN CLIFFORD LORD, who as Academy Sergeant-Major at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, trained King Hussein of Jordan, the Duke of Kent and many other officer cadets, died at Camberley, Surrey yesterday. He was 59.


King Hussein was one of a procession of men who, in "This is your life" on BBC television in 1959, paid tribute to R.S.M. Lord, subject of the programme.


Standing neatly to attention beside Mr. Lord, he referred to his time at Sandhurst and said: "I think I will remember those days to the end of my life, and I will remember R.S.M. Lord, for if anyone influenced us I think he had a great deal to do with it."


During a rehearsal for the passing-out parade in 1963 R.S.M. Lord was ordered to report to the saluting base. Then a Senior Under-Officer stepped forward and handed him a clock, bought by the officer cadets to mark his retirement. "The Voice" said quietly "Gentlemen, thank you" and marched back.


Mr Lord, a Grenadier and a warrant officer for 22 years, was given a newly created civilian post, sports supervisor, at the Academy.


Born at Southport, Lancs. and at one time a Brighton policeman, he dropped with the Airborne Forces at Arnhem, was captured and taken to Stalag XIB. How he maintained the traditions of the Guards in the prison camp was told in 1945. He defeated chaos, misery and boredom and restored a smoothly running organisation, strict discipline and the exacting Guards' standard.


When a party of officers paid the camp its first visit on the day of liberation they found a guard which was faultlessly turned out and which "could have gone on duty at Buckingham Palace and done credit to its corps."


Then a majestic figure appeared, the R.S.M. himself. Gleaming brass, immaculate webbing, razor-edge trouser creases, dazzling boots, a spectacular salute.


Daily inspections and guard mounting, most unpopular when introduced, had restored a great measure of the prisoners' waning self-respect and revived their military bearing.


All who could stand had to parade for P.T. This drastic effort of R.S.M. Lord to build up sinking reserves of strength must have saved the health of hundreds and perhaps the lives of some, it was stated at the time.


In 1963 Mr. Lord was appointed MVO (5th Class).


He leaves a widow, a daughter, Tania, 24, married to an Army sergeant, a son, Richard, 21, and a daughter, Jane, 20, who are both in the Army and serving in Germany.


See also: Sgt Hollingsworth, Spr Carpenter.


Back to 3rd Parachute Battalion

Back to Biographies Menu