Regimental Sergeant Major John LORD MBE (1908-1968)

John Lord This Is Your Life
  • This edition includes the first live appearance of a reigning monarch on British television

programme details...

  • Edition No: 112
  • Subject No: 112
  • Broadcast live: Mon 30 Nov 1959
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.05pm
  • Venue: Academy Theatre Sandhurst
  • Series: 5
  • Edition: 14

on the guest list...

  • H Oulton
  • E J Entwistle
  • Ch Insp Bill Flack
  • Andrew Milbourne
  • Leslie Dakin
  • Ken Davies
  • Harry Kinning
  • Maj Ralph Cobbold
  • Mrs Lord - wife - in audience
  • Tanya - daughter - in audience
  • Jane - daughter - in audience
  • John - son - in audience
  • His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Gen Sir Gerald Lathbury

production team...

  • Researcher: Peter Moore
  • Writer: Peter Moore
  • Director: unknown
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Military Life

Saluting the heroes of the armed forces

The Big Red Book

the programme's icon


the show's fifty year history

This Is Your Life

Radio Times marks the 200th edition

Andrew Milbourne

John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life John Lord This Is Your Life Big Red Book

Photographs of John Lord This Is Your Life - and a photograph of John Lord's big red book

Camberley News

Camberley News 4 December 1959


Six weeks' brilliant strategy and This Is Your Life subject never suspected a thing


Six weeks of careful, cunning planning and brilliant manoeuvring reached their climax on Monday evening when the R.M.A. Sandhurst's Regimental Sergeant-Major John C Lord stepped into the far-reaching spotlight of BBC Television's This Is Your Life.

He was "taken completely aback" early on Monday evening when he stepped into the Academy Theatre to take part in what he had been told was an inter-Services panel game called 'Countdown.' It would be tele-recorded, he had been told. Tickets had even been printed and about 40 handed to RSM Lord, and a special order published by RMA Co-ordinating Officer Colonel Taylor. But, of course, it was all part of the clever This Is Your Life organisation, and like the programme's other subjects, Mr Lord never suspected a thing.

He strode into the packed theatre and was greeted by compere Eamonn Andrews, who showed him the book, This is Your Life.

Mr Andrews has been smuggled through a back gate into RMAS and had been rehearsing in the theatre all afternoon with the programme's other performers.

"It was a complete and utter surprise," Mr Lord told our reporter afterward.

But he never lost the calm and steadfastness which had been valuable at Arnhem and in Nazi prison camps and strode on to the stage with compere Andrews – and on to millions of television screens.


Lancashire-born Mr Lord, who has been at the Academy helping to shape the characters and careers of thousands of cadets since 1948, was taken back through his colourful life and allowed to meet a number of his former comrades and friends.

Among them:

His first CSM, 'Tich' Oulton ("a great man"); Chief Inspector Bill Flack, of the Brighton Police ("one of the finest types of British policeman you could ever find"). Lincolnshire paratroopers Dakin, Davies and Kinning; Major Cobbold, of the Coldstream Guards; and a comrade of prison camp days, veteran Andrew Milbourne, himself a former subject of the programme; former Guardsman Entwistle; Military Training Director Lieut.-General Sir Gerald W Lathbury (Mr Lord's first C.O. in 1941); and, of course, Jordan's King Hussein, who drilled as a Sandhurst cadet under RSM Lord.

The young King, who later met the cast of the programme and dined privately with RMAS Commandant Major-General Robert E Urquhart, stood neatly to attention beside tall, erect Mr Lord and said: "I think I will remember those days (at the Academy) to the end of my life, and I will remember RSM Lord, for, if anyone influenced us, I think he had a great deal to do with it."


'We are both grateful and proud to have been at Sandhurst and to have had RSM Lord as our instructor,' declared the young King. 'I don't speak only for myself, but for the many Jordanian cadets who had the privilege of being at this Academy with me.'

His time at the RMAS, he remarked, was 'a period of happiness and hard work.'

King Hussein had been driven to the theatre in the Commandant's car and taken through a back door.

It was not till 2.40pm on Monday that the programme organisers and the Academy received the final answer on whether or not the King could get to the show that night. The Jordanian Ambassador had been contacted as soon as the King had arrived in this country on Sunday.

Eamonn Andrews had been smuggled into the theatre with his face hidden and hiding on the floor of a car, and the performers had been brought in by special bus.

Mr Lord's wife and two daughters, all conspirators in the great deception, were in the theatre, and his son, at the Duke of York's School, Dover, was watching it all on a TV set.

Mr Lord thought the programme "a wonderful thing."

"But," he told our reporter, with characteristic modesty, "there are plenty more men in the British Army who deserved it more."


The great deception at the RMA had been brilliantly organised by Colonel Taylor, after the War Office Public Relations Department and the BBC had asked the Commandant about six weeks ago if RSM Lord could be featured on This Is Your Life.

Major-General Urquhart agreed and the help of Quartermaster Lieut-Colonel Lacey and his wife was enlisted. Mrs Lacey had to ask Mrs Lord for approval, and after 24 hours' consideration she agreed to 'go along with it.'

The panel game ruse was worked out and Mr Lord was invited. To Colonel Taylor's, and the other organiser's delight, he accepted.

Technicians and programme organisers stayed at Hawley Hotel that day. The ruse was maintained and no one there guessed the real reason of their visit.

By now, a few rumours had started to circulate around the Academy.

'It was getting around at about 3 o'clock on Monday – especially among the cadets,' Colonel Taylor told our reporter this week, 'but they didn't seem to be guessing in the right direction.'

'RSM Lord had no idea till Eamonn Andrews came up and showed him the book.'


King Hussein's appearance on the programme was the first time a reigning monarch has been featured on a British television entertainment programme, and the second time a reigning monarch has been on TV in this country at all.

(The first time was the Queen's Christmas Day address).

About King Hussein, Mr Lord remarked this week: 'He is a true son of Sandhurst, in my humble opinion.'

Mr Lord, who holds the MBE, and other decorations, served as RSM at the Academy from July 1948 until May 1955, and then rejoined it in March 1956.

His job, he believes, is 'the most wonderful and most rewarding one in the British Army.'

A Grenadier Guardsman and seasoned paratrooper (he was captured by the Nazis at Arnhem), he has drilled more than 6000 cadets at Sandhurst.

He took over from well known RSM A J Brand, now licensee of the Jolly Farmer Inn, Yorktown Road, College Town, Sandhurst.

unknown source: This Is Your Life article

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Spalding paratroopers in BBC feature


Thousands of television viewers in Spalding and district on Monday night shared with Regimental Sergeant Major John Lord MBE, an intensely dramatic moment when the sergeant major was suddenly confronted by King Hussein of Jordan on the stage at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

For RSM Lord, senior RSM in the British Army, who married a Spalding girl, it was the culminating shock of the evening for he was, to his obvious bewilderment, the subject of the BBC's This Is Your Life programme.

King Hussein paid tribute to John Lord on behalf of all officer cadets, past and present, at Sandhurst.

The sergeant major, who fought at Arnhem with the Parachute Regt., and received his MBE for his leadership in a German prison camp, married the daughter of Coun. Bert Baxter, of Spalding. They have three children, two girls and a boy.

The ruse

The programme opened with a "shot" of an audience in the Royal Military Academy, there ostensibly to see a new panel game, "Countdown," with Derek Bond as compere.

Then came a knock on the door and in stepped Eamonn Andrews of This Is Your Life. The ruse was then immediately the Order of the Day: "RSM John Lord, MBE, this is your life."

The RSM in close-up, sitting in the audience, looked shaken. He stroked the back of his neck in perplexity.

He walked on to the stage and was offered the waiting, vacant chair.

The story of John Lord went back to 1933 when John Lord was serving as a private in the Grenadier Guards and he was introduced to his old Company Sergeant Major of those days, who described him as a good soldier, and also a bit of a comedian "doing Sam Small and Albert the Lion."

When asked by Eamonn at this stage whether he had recovered from the shock, John replied: "I certainly have not!"

Spud bashing

Then followed photographs of John "spud bashing" and on guard.

The scene then switched to 1937 when John left the Army and joined the police force at Brighton.

A chief inspector told how John caught two men on a stolen motor cycle and how he was commended.

"There was always a drop in the crime wave when PC Lord was on duty," he declared.

It was in 1939 that John Lord re-joined the Grenadier Guards. Subsequently he joined the 3rd Battn. of the Parachute Regiment, the commanding officer of which is now General Sir Gerald Lathbury.


General Lathbury, in a filmed tribute, recalled the information of that unit in 1941 and the posting to it of RSM Lord.

"We soon realised how very lucky we were in having him come to us."

RSM Lord, he said, set the unit a high standard in discipline and personal behaviour and moreover, he had a sense of humour and thorough understanding of human nature.

General Lathbury went on to say that by choosing to remain an RSM at Sandhurst rather than take his commission, as was his right, John Lord had, by his sterling example, accomplished more for the British Army and its future officers than he could have done by being an officer himself.

Then followed a flash-back to This Is Your Life of a year ago, when John Lord appeared to pay tribute to another paratrooper who was maimed at Arnhem and served with John in Stalag 11B, notorious prison camp.


John was described as "brave, steadfast, smart and above all, a gentleman."

Then appeared three former parachute men who were stationed with John Lord at Spalding before Arnhem:

Mr L Dakin, of Clarence Gardens, Windsor Estate, Spalding, Mr A K Davies, of Holyrood Walk, Windsor Estate, Spalding, and Mr H Kinning, of Wygate Road, Spalding.

They told how John Lord, by his personal example and the way he has with men, brought discipline, orderliness and hope to the prisoners in that notorious camp.

"He came in wounded in the arm his sleeve all torn – but next morning he had it all sewn up."

"We never knew where the needle and cotton came from – and somehow he always had a crease in his trousers."

And another tribute from the trio: "At first he had to stand to attention to the German corporal but he soon had the Germans standing to attention to him!"

Shook it up

"He came to the camp and shook it up – it certainly did not suit some of us, but he made a good outfit out of disorganised rabble."

At this time John Lord replied: "It is absolute nonsense to say it was rabble – the right material was there."

A switch was then made to April 1945 when the British Army reached Stalag 11B, Major Ralph Covell speaking of its "incredible orderliness."

The guard was turned out in a perfectly normal way and everything was perfect. Men were all shaved – one razor to a hut – and stood to attention.

"It brought a lump in the throat," he said.

At this stage Mrs Lord was pictured in the audience with two of her three children – John, the son, was away at school, but had been "tipped off" said Eamonn.

King Hussein

John said he still had not recovered and at this moment King Hussein of Jordan stepped from behind the curtain.

John Lord stood rigidly to attention and bowed.

The King, who had trained at Sandhurst, said it was an experience he would remember all his life.

He referred to his time at Sandhurst as "a period of happiness and hard work," and one which "had a great bearing on what I have been able to accomplish and what I am today."

King Hussein added: "I think I will remember those days to the end of my life, and I will remember RSM Lord, for if anyone influenced us I think he had a great deal to do with it."

"We are both grateful and proud to have been at Sandhurst and to have had RSM Lord as our instructor."

And as the programme ended, Eamonn Andrews said: "No finer soldier marched with the Grenadiers or with the British Army."

RSM Lord was pictured chatting with King Hussein and another close-up showed him smiling – smiling the inscrutable smile of a regimental sergeant major.

He was last seen passing his fingers along his brow – obviously moved by the evening events.

His comment

RSM Lord, speaking to a Guardian reporter on the telephone about finding himself the subject of This Is Your Life said: "Was I surprised? I was utterly taken aback."

He found the programme "a bit overwhelming."

Obviously reluctant to talk of his relationship with King Hussein, RSM Lord said:

"He was always keen, a man of great dignity and presence and there is something about him that is rather indefinable."

King Hussein had a drink with RSM Lord in the Indian Army room at the staff college after the programme.


One story not told about RSM Lord during the programme on Monday was of the week he spent in hiding beneath the floorboards of a hut in Stalag 11B in the chill month of March 1945, to stop the Germans transferring him to another prison camp. During the seven cramped days and nights French prisoners tended to his needs.

RSM Lord came out of hiding when he heard that there was "trouble above" but his German captors took no disciplinary action against him.

"I think they realised that the end was too near," said the RSM.

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Ex-cadet Hussein of Jordan walks on stage in honour of John Lord

Express Staff Reporter

This was the life of Sandhurst's Regimental Sergeant Major John Lord... before him, and before the cameras of BBC television, there paraded a surprise stream of his friends and last, "as representative of the officer cadets past, present and future," the biggest surprise of all, King Hussein of Jordan.

This Is Your Life is the programme which is kept secret from the subject until the last moment. Last night the subject was 48-year-old RSM Lord, of the Grenadier Guards, who during the war produced a faultlessly turned out guard among British prisoners in a German camp.

When King Hussein walked on stage of the Academy Theatre there was at first a startled silence.

Then the 200 men in the audience rose, cheering.


The king smiled and said: "This was a period of happiness and hard work here at Sandhurst, and I think I will remember it to the end of my life."

"And I will also remember RSM Lord, who, if anybody, did influence us, he has had a great deal with that. I am both grateful and proud to have been at Sandhurst and to have had Regimental Sergeant Major Lord as an instructor."

The RSM, who had kept his soldierly bearing, was visibly affected.

He said later: "I was flabbergasted. But it was so typical of the King's sporting attitude."

The three-minute appearance of Hussein was the first by a reigning monarch in such a programme. How was it arranged?

Two weeks ago the BBC asked the king to take part in the programme. Since then he kept the secret, without knowing whether or not he would be able to appear.


Last weekend he flew to London from Bonn - at one o'clock yesterday afternoon his secretary phoned the BBC to say he would appear.

He spent most of the afternoon with the commandant, Major-General Ronald Urquhart, and went into the theatre 15 minutes before the programme was due on the air.

The BBC said later: "No one in the theatre except the commandant and the compere, Eamonn Andrews, knew he was to appear."

Later the BBC gave a party for RSM Lord. King Hussein looked in for 15 minutes before leaving for dinner with the commandant.

unknown source: This Is Your Life article

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The story behind the TV picture of the year

The night the king came. That's how, in the years to come, we'll place last Monday's THIS IS YOUR LIFE. It will be no slight on Regimental Sergeant Major Lord, subject of the programme.

Rather the opposite. After all, it was in Lord's honour that KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN appeared on the screen.

I don't ever remember such an avalanche of letters as have followed this programme.

What a magnificent sporting, generous, kingly gesture it was. If you exclude Her Majesty's Christmas Day broadcast last year, it was, I believe, the first time a reigning monarch had appeared "live" (ie not on film) on British television.

The explosion that happened in that hall at Sandhurst when King Hussein stepped on to the little stage is something no microphone could adequately reproduce.


Led by the commandant, General Urquhart, the officers and cadets (And their wives!) sprang to attention. There was a moment of surprised silence. It was like that pause before a chopped tree begins to heave over towards the ground. Then they began to applaud. It rolled up over the stage and the king smiled a little smile. He knew they were returning the compliment.

It was a superb moment. The king standing to attention before his former sergeant-major, the statuesque sergeant-major standing to attention before his majesty, yet by some subtlety of movement that escapes me, managing at the same time to IMPLY a bow, an obeisance in the direction of the king.

There was less than an hour to go for programme time before we knew for sure King Hussein really was going to appear. All the dice had been thrown. Derek Bond had been round the camp most of the day lending visible credence to the belief he was going to film a new panel game that night. The guests had been smuggled out by van to a nearby hotel for refreshment.

The engineers were tinkering with wires and microphones. A man was sweeping the stage. One or two lights were burning. We were waiting for the number to come up.

It was 6-45. One moment there was no one there. The next, the king was standing just inside the backstage doorway, half-shadowed, smiling, already enjoying the joke of the surprise for his favourite sergeant-major. One felt he'd been standing there quite some time before deciding to become visible.

After that it was plain sailing. He asked a few questions and disappeared, saying he would be back at seven twenty-five.

He was. As the clock ticked over we were coming on the air with the biggest surprise we'd ever had on This Is Your Life.

On second thoughts, I will not only remember it as the night the king came – but also as the night the RSM stood to attention and bowed at the same time!

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By a Radio Correspondent

King Hussein of Jordan appeared in BBC television's This Is Your Life, broadcast last night from Sandhurst. Formally an officer cadet at Sandhurst, he was one of a procession of men who paid tribute to the Royal Military Academy's RSM John Lord, subject of the programme.

King Hussein referred to his time at Sandhurst as "a period of happiness and hard work" and one which had "a great bearing on what I have been able to accomplish and what I am today." Standing neatly to attention beside Mr Lord, he went on:

"I think I will remember those days to the end of my life, and I will remember RSM Lord, for if anyone influenced us I think he had a great deal to do with it."

"We are both grateful and proud to have been at Sandhurst and to have had RSM Lord as our instructor. I don't speak only for myself but for the many Jordanian cadets who had the privilege of being at this academy with me."

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Hussein in This Is Your Life

By Norman Hare

King Hussein of Jordan last night appeared on the BBC's This Is Your Life.

He went to Sandhurst, where the programme was being relayed, to pay tribute to Regimental Sergeant Major Lord under whom he trained as an Army cadet.

A packed audience of officers and cadets had gathered at the Military Academy believing that they were to watch the first "try-out" of a BBC panel game. Instead they saw Mr Lord become the subject of This Is Your Life.

Leslie Jackson, the producer, saved his big surprise until the end after a parade of sergeant majors and old comrades, each with a tribute to pay to one of the best known men in the British Army.


King Hussein stood calmly as he was greeted with a great roar of applause by the officers and cadets.

Then he said: "I have had in my life many experiences but my time at Sandhurst was a period which had a great bearing on what I have been able to accomplish. It was a period of happiness and hard work."

"I speak for myself and on behalf of the many Jordanian cadets who have had the privilege of being at Sandhurst when I say that we are both grateful and proud to have been there and to have had Regimental Sergeant Major Lord as our instructor."

The king arrived at the Academy Theatre 15 minutes before This Is Your Life started. After the TV tribute he attended a party in honour of the RSM and then had dinner with the commandant.

Southport Journal: This Is Your Life article

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King Gives R.S.M. Big TV Surprise


A former resident, who was at one time captain of Southport Rugby Football Club, shook hands with King Hussein of Jordan, on Monday evening before an audience of millions of television viewers on This Is Your Life.

For Regimental Sergeant Major John C Lord the programme was a highlight in a brilliant and heroic career in the British Army.

RSM Lord's parents lived at 73 Forest Road for many years before the war. He was captain of the Rugby Club in 1931-32. During the year of his captaincy he acted as groomsman at the wedding of the present treasurer of the club, Lieut-Colonel and Mrs C E Gibbs.

Among Colonel Gibbs' souvenirs of the club are newspaper cuttings which describe RSM Lord's exploits at the end of the war.

He was described as "The King" of 5000 American and British prisoners of war in Stalag X1b. It was stated that when RSM Lord arrived at the camp, after being captured by the Germans at Arnhem, he found the prisoners living in helpless misery and obviously in need of leadership.

Six months later when the camp was liberated a very different picture met the eyes of the British officers who led the liberating party. They found a smart guard of honour and the camp had been transferred into a place of firm discipline and high morale.

RSM Lord could have given up his immense task three times and been transferred to the more comfortable situation of an NCO's camp but he refused. He was decorated for his gallantry at the end of the war.

During Monday's television programme ex-prisoners of war appeared and told how RSM Lord made them drill and take part in PT sessions until they "looked like soldiers."

He also met old comrades from Cairo who saw service with him in pre-war days and met parachutists who were with him at the memorable Arnhem battle, including his former Commanding Officer, General Sir Gerald Lathbury, now Director-General of Military Training.

At the end of the war RSM Lord was appointed to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and it was there that he met King Hussein who, in 1952, attended the academy for a six month course.

When King Hussein appeared on the TV screen, Eamonn Andrews, the show's compere, said: "I don't think you are strangers to each other."

The king smiled and said: "I do not think I am a stranger to him. I have had in my life many experiences, and I think a period which had a great bearing on what I have been able to accomplish and what I am today."

"This was a period of happiness and hard work here at Sandhurst, and I think I will remember it to the end of my life."

"I will also remember RSM Lord, who, if anybody, did influence us, he has had a great deal to do with that."

Just before the war RSM Lord spent several years as a policeman before going back into the Army.

Spalding Guardian: This Is Your Life article

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The BBC had to keep three Spalding ex-prisoners captive


Grey-coated guards in the pillboxes always forgot to stamp their feet to keep the cold at bay when they saw the tall figure in well-pressed battledress marching crisply round the perimeter of the prison camp, swinging his cane.

"That's why I think the Germans had this curious respect for him," said Mr Leslie Dakin, of Clarence Gardens, Windsor Estate, Spalding, to a Guardian reporter this week.

"They knew the tall figure was trying – successfully – to keep discipline to the fore and they couldn't help admiring him for it."


Mr Dakin was one of three former paratroopers who appeared in the BBC television programme This Is Your Life on Monday to say just what it was like to be with RSM Lord in Stalag X1B.

The other two paratroopers were Mr Harry Kinning, of Wygate Road, Spalding, and Mr Ken Davies, of Holyrood Walk, Windsor Estate, Spalding.

RSM Lord was the subject of This Is Your Life.

Life was hard in Stalag X1B, although there were worse camps, said Mr Dakin, who works at Spalding telephone exchange and who played some years ago for Holbeach United.


Food was scarce, to say the least, the ration for seven men daily being three potatoes and a loaf of bread.

"We had a cup of coffee too – horrible stuff, but it was piping hot and that was the main thing," recalled Mr Dakin remembering back to the nights he and his colleagues spent in the camp after being captured at Arnhem.

Monday of this week was no cup of tea either, for Mr Dakin and his two friends.

They had to spend the whole of the afternoon locked in the theatre at Sandhurst so that RSM Lord should not see them as he made his rounds of the academy.

Rehearsals went on until 6pm and then the three men left in the darkness for a meal outside the grounds.

In net

How was RSM Lord "caught?"

He was in the audience in the theatre at 7.30pm fully expecting to see a new BBC panel game Countdown, when Eamonn Andrews came up and told him he was the subject of This Is Your Life.

Incomplete article...


Coun. B Baxter, of Spalding, whose daughter Audrey is married to RSM Lord, watched This Is Your Life with Mrs Baxter at their home.

It was not until Monday morning that they were told that their son-in-law was going to appear on television.

Expressing pleasure at being able to see the programme, Coun. Baxter told the Guardian: "I think it was credit due to him and without doubt it was an honour."

Daily Mail: This Is Your Life article

Daily Mail 1 December 1959

Hussein in This is your life



King Hussein of Jordan appeared on the BBC television programme This Is Your Life last night. He was there to pay tribute to this week's "subject" - RSM John Lord, his former instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

The King, who went to Sandhurst on a six-month course in 1952, walked from behind the curtain in the closing minutes of the programme and shook the surprised RSM by the hand.

How did the BBC persuade the King to appear? I understand they wrote to him two weeks ago telling him about the programme.

On Sunday he arrived in England on "a purely private visit." At 1pm yesterday a telephone call to the programme's producer, Leslie Jackson, said that the King would be able to take part.

The BBC said that they thought King Hussein had not come to England specially for the broadcast. But his friends were surprised by the trip – his second to Britain this year.


His explanation when he arrived on Sunday was: "I felt I needed a change so I decided to visit old friends."

Said the BBC: "It was a very kind gesture by the King."

The programme went out from Sandhurst itself. And most of Sandhurst was fooled by the elaborate precautions the BBC works out to take its "victims" by surprise.

Only the Commandant, Major-General R W Urqhart, and a handful of officers, I understand, were in the secret.

Notices went up at Sandhurst last week saying that a new BBC panel game called Countdown would be tried out in the Academy Theatre last night.

Most of Sandhurst's officers and many cadets went to the theatre for the "panel game." Among them was Sergeant-Major Lord – Grenadier Guardsman who was captured at Arnhem, brought order out of chaos in Stalag X1B, and turned out a faultless guard to meet the liberating Allied troops.

Actor Derek Bond, who had been billed as "quiz master," kept up the pretence in the theatre last night for 15 minutes.

Then, at 7.30pm Eamonn Andrews walked up to RSM Lord and announced: "This is your life."


Top-ranking officers appeared on the programme to praise "the Army's No 1 RSM."

Almost at the end Eamonn Andrews said he would bring on someone who represented the past and present cadets at the Academy. It was King Hussein.

"I am both grateful and proud to have had RSM Lord as instructor," said the King. "I do not speak for just myself but for all cadets who have the privilege to be at this Academy under him."

"I have had in my life many experiences but my time at Sandhurst was a period which had a great bearing on what I have been able to accomplish and what I am. If anyone did influence me it was Sergeant-Major Lord."

A Sandhurst spokesman said last night: "His Majesty's visit was a total surprise – but a very, very welcome one."

The Commandant was warned by the BBC at 2.40 that the King would be arriving.

The King discussed the programme with Eamonn Andrews for 15 minutes, then took his place in the wings to wait for his cue.

After the programme he went to a party in honour of RSM Lord, later he dined privately with General Urquhart.

Unknown source: This Is Your Life article

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Royal address

Having had the honour to be the Academy Sergeant Major at Sandhurst for 15 years until my retirement in 1963, I wish to correct "Albany" when he states that when addressing King Hussein of Jordan, during his days as an Officer Cadet here, I used the term "Mr King of Jordan, sir." This would have been ridiculous and is untrue.

In fact, from myself downwards, all the instructors used the term "King Hussin, sir." This was considered direct and correct, and was in the Sandhurst tradition of, whenever possible, giving the Officer Cadet the benefit of his name. This is only right and proper.


RMA Sandhurst

Camberley, Surrey

Evening Dispatch: This Is Your Life article

Unknown source and date


Many of you who saw RSM John Lord receiving the congratulations of King Hussein on the BBC TV's This Is Your Life programme on Monday night may be interested to know that he visited Edinburgh for the first time in 1954.

He was in charge of cadets from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The cadets were taking part in the Festival Tattoo and were billeted at Fettes College.

"The interesting thing about the 48 cadets was that they were all volunteers, and the number of applications exceeded the number of vacancies," said T K Currie, who is administrative director of the Tattoo.

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Tribute to one brings all the


At military academies like France's St Cyr, America's West Point and Britain's Sandhurst, the glory naturally goes to the cadets.

And all too often the institutions backbones – instructors, advisors and attached regular soldiers – work loyally and energetically in the dusk of comparative obscurity.

And that is how most of them would say they want it to be. They are there to do their part in moulding the characters and careers of future Army leaders, and don't seek any glory.

But, nevertheless, it's nice to give credit where credit is due.

West Point's famous Irish-born Marty Maher got his through an autobiography, and an inspiring John Ford screen epic called 'The Long Gray Line.'

And last week, I was glad to see the 'backroom boys' of the RMA Sandhurst were getting their deserved credit.

Erect, respected RSM John C Lord got his tribute through BBC Television's elaborately arranged, widely watched This Is Your Life.

In fact, that sparked off a number of tributes to Mr Lord from his comrades – past and present.


About him, RMA Quartermaster Lieut-Colonel W C Lacey told me: "He is really a first class warrant officer – one of the finest warrant officers I have ever met. And that is saying something."

And Colonel Lacey should know. He started his own career as a boy soldier and was a warrant officer first class himself. He has been Quartermaster at the academy for four years.

Colonel Lacey and his wife played a great part in the arranging of RSM Lord's television appearance – particularly in keeping the whole thing secret from him.

"He didn't have a clue about it," remarked the Quartermaster. Like Mr Lord, he holds the MBE.

But it was not entirely Mr Lord's limelight. He, in turn, paid warm tribute to the other "backroom boys" of the RMA.

"The sergeants and the others at Sandhurst today are, without doubt, the cream of the British Army," Mr Lord told me. "They learn an enormous lot."

"The sergeant today is a very experienced young man." Those at the academy were "very, very intelligent and extremely experienced."

Mr Lord also gave me some of his views on the Army generally today.

"Too many people today tend to get fogged up with extraneous paraphernalia," he pointed out, but believed that Wellington's stress on the need to train and develop the private soldier "still applies today."

Training, felt Mr Lord, was a two-fold thing: "Technical know-how, and a way of life – honesty, service steadfastness and loyalty."


Drill, Mr Lord believes, is vital in the training of soldiers.

"It is a very important part of their training here," he told me in his office overlooking the academy's main parade ground and lawns. "It develops the schoolboy into the young man. It develops the positive qualities and cancels out the negative ones."

"I know jolly well that it does," Mr Lord commented. He recalled his combat experiences; at Arnhem, where he was captured, and in Nazi prison camps, where he maintained discipline and "bull" to keep British morale high.

"Drill is the basis and background of the cadet's training," continued RSM Lord.

He said the cadets "love the ceremonial," and pointed out that it gave the academy the chance to get "into the spotlight" and show all that was done at Sandhurst the rest of the time.

"It is the only way the Army can show the spirit of the place," veteran Lord added.

Like most seasoned campaigners who have seen and experienced much, Mr Lord is extremely modest.

He takes a keen interest in academy life and affairs, and has been there as RSM since July 1948, when he took over from RSM A J Brand.


A Grenadier Guardsman and qualified paratrooper, Mr Lord was at Sandhurst early in the Second World War. He was CSM from 1940 to 1941, and was with "C" Company when a Nazi bomb hit "D" Block and killed five cadets.

He feels his present job is the "most wonderful and most rewarding one in the British Army."

He has been partly responsible for moulding the careers and characters of more than 6000 cadets, including Jordan's King Hussein.

Mr Lord has two daughters, and a son at the Duke of York's School, Dover.

He is a very keen rugby referee and takes charge of about two games a week. He has played for the Army.

Series 5 subjects

Evelyn Laye | Donald Caskie | Eva Turner | Billy Butlin | James Slater | Edmund Arbuthnott | Louis Langford | O P Jones
Richard Hearne | Francoise Rigby | John Barclay | Thomas Drake | William Merrilees | John Lord | Russ Conway | Stanley Bishop
Leonard Stanmore | Arthur Askey | Robert Oldfield | Alicia Markova | Frederic Morena | Hilda Rowcliffe | Thomas Salmon
Harry Welchman | Harry Webb | Nat Gonella | David Barclay | Richard Todd | Thomas Bodkin | Gracie Fields | Michael Ansell