- Name: David Samuel Anthony LORD
- D.O.B: 18th October, 1913
- D.O.A: 19th September, 1944
- D.O.D: 19th September, 1944
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Flight Lieutenant, No 271 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Operation Market Garden
17-25 September 1944
The Second World War 1944
As the Allies advanced through Belgium towards Germany, on 17 September 1944 they launched Operation Market Garden. This was an attempt by the British 2nd Army to push north through the Netherlands and thus circumvent the Siegfried Line that ran along the German frontier to Cleves (Kleve), just east of the Dutch town of Nijmegen. The success of the plan depended on the capture of strategic bridges over the major rivers that intersected the route. That over the Meuse (Maas) at Grave was taken on 17 September and that over the Waal, the main branch of the River Rhine, at Nijmegen on the 20th. However, the airborne troops who were dropped to capture the bridge over the Lower Rhine at Arnhem to the north faced insurmountable odds, not least from two SS Panzer Divisions regrouping in the immediate area. The British secured a bridgehead to the north of the river but could not capture the southern end of the bridge. They held out at the northern end until the 21st. This hindered German reinforcements being sent south to Nijmegen. However, the failure to capture that bridge until the 20th meant that Allied forces could not come to their aid. They were penned into an enclave west of Oosterbeek, just to the west of Arnhem. On the 25th the survivors were brought back across the Lower Rhine by Allied forces who had by this time reached the opposite bank. Arnhem itself was not finally captured until 14 April 1945.
Flight Lieutenant Lord was pilot and captain of a Dakota aircraft detailed to drop supplies at Arnhem on the afternoon of the 19th September, 1944. Our airborne troops had been surrounded and were being pressed into a small area defended by a large number of anti-aircraft guns. Air crews were warned that intense opposition would be met over the dropping zone. To ensure accuracy they were ordered to fly at 900 feet when dropping their containers. While flying at 1,500 feet near Arnhem the starboard wing of Flight Lieutenant Lord’s aircraft was twice hit by anti-aircraft fire. The starboard engine was set on fire. He would have been justified in leaving the main stream of supply aircraft and continuing at the same height or even abandoning his aircraft. But on learning that his crew were uninjured and that the dropping zone would be reached in three minutes he said he would complete his mission, as the troops were in dire need of the supplies. By now the starboard engine was burning furiously. Flight Lieutenant Lord came down to 900 feet, where he was singled out for the concentrated fire of all the anti-aircraft guns. On reaching the dropping zone he kept the aircraft on a straight and level course while supplies were dropped. At the end of the run he was told that two containers remained. Although he must have known that the collapse of the starboard wing could not be long delayed, Flight Lieutenant Lord circled, rejoined the stream of aircraft and made a second run to drop the remaining supplies. These manoeuvres took eight minutes in all, the aircraft being continuously under heavy anti-aircraft fire. His task completed, Flight Lieutenant Lord ordered his crew to abandon the Dakota, making no attempt himself to leave the aircraft, which was down to 500 feet. A few seconds later, the starboard wing collapsed and the aircraft fell in flames. There was only one survivor, who was flung out while assisting other members of the crew to put on their parachutes. By continuing his mission in a damaged and burning aircraft, descending to drop the supplies accurately, returning to the dropping zone a second time and, finally, remaining at the controls to give his crew a chance of escape, Flight Lieutenant Lord displayed supreme valour and self-sacrifice.