Napoleon Series Archive 2006

Academy Sergeant Major J. C. Lord, MVO MBE

Academy Sergeant Major J. C. Lord, MVO MBE

“After finishing my course in Eaton Hall, I was commisioned as a 2Lt. From there I proceeded to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) to do the eighteen months course and my status reverted back to Officer Cadet. The post World War II RMAS was reputed to be one of the best, if not the best military institutions in the world.
It was organised into three colleges, Old, New, and Victory, each with four companies, named respectively after battles prior to 1914, the First World War, and the Second World War. I was in intake 14 and was posted to Alemein Company in Victory College. On our first day we were assembled on the parade square in front of the Old College and addressed by the RSM of the Academy Mr. J.C.Lord. His very first words were, "Gentlemen, my name is J.C. Lord. J C does not stand for Jesus Christ. He is Lord up there (pointing up to the sky with his pace stick) and I am Lord down here (pointing to the parade ground). I will address you as "Sir" but I won't mean it and you too will address me "Sir" but make sure that you mean it". Irrespective of this remark we all came to respect him very much for RSM Lord was a very excellent person and I still feel very honored that I had been a cadet under him.”

Life & Times of Maj Gen (Rtd) Dato' Selvarajah of Malaysia.

Ray eventually ended up at Stalag 11b, a PoW camp between Hanover and Hamburg. With 17,000 other POW’s, Ray thought his time was up, but it was by lucky circumstance that the man in charge there should be none other than JC Lord. Ray gives Lord the credit for keeping his spirits up.
“Lord got that place organised - with exercise and discipline, when everyone else had thought all was lost. He instilled discipline back, got me a uniform, boots, beret, stripes and he got medical orderlies to take me to the washrooms in morning. He used to come and see me at least once a week, and wanted to get me marching again. I would put my hand on their soldiers and march with them. He more or less saved my life I think. I think I’d probably given up really. I thought I’d had it when I first came into the camp.”

The Late Academy Sergeant Major J. C. Lord, MVO MBE

Sergeant Major Lord joined the Grenadier Guards in March 1933 on a four-year engagement, at the end of which he took his discharge and joined the Brighton Police Force. During his Colour service he rose to the rank of lance sergeant, saw service in Egypt, and played rugby football for the Army and for United Services Egypt.

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.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was recalled to the Colours and shortly after posted to the OCTU at Sandhurst as a sergeant instructor, subsequently gaining promotion to CSM of a cadet company.

He remained at Sandhurst until October 1941 when on the formation of the 3rd Bn, The Parachute Regiment, he was posted as its first RSM. He accompanied his battalion to Tunisia in the following year and in 1943 took part in the parachute operations south of Catania on the Primesole Bridge during the invasion of Sicily. After service on the Italian mainland he returned with 1st Para Bde to the United Kingdom to prepare for operations in North West Europe.

In September 1944, RSM Lord was wounded and captured during the battle of Arnhem. For six months he was in effective control of Stalag XIB Prisoner-of-War Camp, which at times held up to 17,000 Russian, Polish, Yugoslav, French, American, and British prisoners. The following extract from The Times of 2 May 1945 describes this achievement:

"RSM Lord spent just over six months at Stalag XIB. Taken prisoner at Arnhem, he arrived soon afterwards with several hundred fellow prisoners from the 1st Airborne Division. He found the prisoners in conditions of chaos and misery. They had tended to succumb to the lethargy that hunger, boredom and squalor so easily led to. They lived in decay and wretchedness, and when they died their bodies were taken almost unheeded to their graves on an old cart.

"That was what RSM Lord found and this is what Major Ralph Cobbold, Coldstream Guards, found when he paid the camp its first visit on the day of liberation.

"At the gate was an impressive guard in maroon beret. 'We thought that the 6th Airborne Division must somehow have got there first,' said Major Cobbold, 'but when I asked the guard commander when he'd arrived his answer was, 'Just after Arnhem, Sir.' It was faultlessly turned out, that guard. It could have gone on duty at Buckingham Palace and done credit to the Corps.

"Then a majestic figure appeared, the RSM himself, with gleaming brass, immaculate webbing, razor-edged trouser creases, dazzling boots, a spectacular salute. As the officers walked with him to his office hundreds of prisoners, though wild with joy of liberation, saluted with precision. In the office he produced chairs and offered cups of tea. Asked for numbers and particulars of prisoners in the Stalag, RSM Lord rang a bell. 'Bring me the personnel files, corporal,' he ordered when the door opened, and the fullest details were handed to Major Cobbold.

"Passing through the camp, the officers were able to judge the magnitude of the task performed by RSM Lord and his team of Warrant Officers and NCOs, several of them ex-guardsmen. In place of the lifeless confusion of six months earlier they saw everywhere evidence of the highest morale and discipline. A smoothly running organization had been worked out and maintained. Daily inspection guard mounting, most unpopular when introduced, had restored the prisoners' self-respect and revived their military bearing, and all had been accomplished amid appalling conditions of over-crowding and undernourishment.

"Four hundred men were crowded into each hut, which had bunks for only 150. To each man only one blanket was allowed, even to the depth of winter. In the cookhouse the RSM showed the officers the daily meat ration for nearly 5,000 men—two cool buckets full of horse-flesh. All who could had to parade for PT and this drastic effort of RSM Lord to build up their sinking reserves of strength must have saved the health of hundreds and perhaps the lives of some. When a prisoner died he was given a military funeral with a bearer-party, a slow march thought the camp, and a Union Jack on his coffin. National flags could not be displayed in prison camps, but the RSM always had a Union Jack to cover the coffin as soon as the bearers had borne it outside the compound.

"Three times RSM Lord could have given up his task. He and his team were offered a transfer to an NCO's camp, where conditions were far better. In a body they refused. As Britian spearheads drove east from the Rhine a large number of priority prisoners were marched off eastwards. RSM Lord's name was high on the list, but he did not go. He hid himself under the floor of a hut and was fed through a hole in the floorboards for five days while search parties hunted him. Then he emerged to resume his leadership of the Stalag until he could hand over to an officer of the advancing British armies. Even when he had done that he did not leave for England via the first of the aeroplanes to fly the liberated prisoners back, as he could easily have done. He volunteered to stay instead and organize the evacuation of his men. 'I wanted to see them all out,' he said."

After his repatriation leave he was returned to the Parachute Regiment Training Center as RSM and in August 1947 joined the staff of the new Royal Military Academy Sandhurst s RSM, New College, becoming RSM of the Academy in the following year.

From July 1948 with two breaks of serious illness, RSM Lord held the position which in December 1960 was graded to Academy Sergeant Major.

On his retirement in August 1963 he had held the rank of Warrant Officer Class I for 22 years and was the senior RSM in the British Army.

He died at his home in Camberley on 21 January 1968.

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