Flight Lieutenant David Samuel Anthony Lord VC, DFC (18 October 1913 – 19 September 1944) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British, Irish and Commonwealth forces.
David Lord was born on 18 October 1913 in Cork, Ireland, the son of Samuel (a Warrant Officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and Mary Lord.
After the First World War the family were posted to British India and Lord attended Lucknow Convent School. On his father’s retirement from the Army the family moved to Wrexham and then David was a pupil at St Mary’s College, Aberystwyth before attending the English Ecclesiastical College, Valladolid, Spain to study for the priesthood. Deciding the priesthood was not the career for him he returned to Wrexham before moving to London in the mid-1930s as a freelance writer. He enlisted in the RAF in 1936.
Second World War
He underwent pilot training, becoming a Sergeant Pilot in 1939 with No. 31 Squadron RAF on the North West Frontier, flying the Vickers Valentia biplane. In 1941 No. 31 squadron was the first unit to receive the Douglas DC-2 which was followed by both the Douglas DC-3 and Dakota transports. He flew in the Middle East, (being injured in a crash) before being posted back to India. Commissioned in 1942, he flew on supply missions over Burma.
Lord was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during 1943 and by January 1944 had returned to the UK for service with No. 271 Squadron (based at RAF Down Ampney, Gloucestershire training to drop paratroops, supplies and to tow military gliders. He then took part in the D-Day operations in June 1944.
Battle of Arnhem
The Battle of Arnhem was part of Operation Market Garden, an attempt to secure a string of bridges through the Netherlands. At Arnhem the British 1st Airborne Division and Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade were tasked with securing bridges across the Lower Rhine, the final objectives of the operation. However, the airborne forces that dropped on 17 September were not aware that the 9th SS and 10th SS Panzer divisions were also near Arnhem for rest and refit. Their presence added a substantial number of Panzergrenadiers, tanks and Self-propelled guns to the German defenses and the Allies suffered heavily in the ensuing battle. Only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge before being overrun on the 21st. The rest of the division became trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge and had to be evacuated on the 25th. The Allies failed to cross the Rhine, which remained under German control until Allied offensives in March 1945.
He was 30 years old, and a Flight Lieutenant in 271 Squadron, Royal Air Force during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 19 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.
Only the navigator, F/Lt Harold King survived, becoming a prisoner of war. It was only on his release in mid 1945 that the story of Lord’s action was known, and David Lord was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. David Lord is buried alongside his crew in Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, near Arnhem.