Service number 57305
Born: February 26th 1909
Died: June 6th 1944
Francis Gordon was the youngest of the four sons of Alan Walter Boyd [later Lennox-Boyd by Deed Poll in 1925], a barrister, and his second wife, Florence Annie Begbie Like his brothers he was born in Bournemouth.
The family lived at Roysdean, 5 Derby Road, a house with nineteen rooms. They moved to Broadley House, Sway, Hampshire before 1927. He was educated privately and Matriculated in 1927 and read English. At the time of his Finals, he was at home in Henlow having been operated on for appendicitis. He was given an Aegrotat and did the exams in bed. [An Aegrotat was a medical certificate stating that a student was too ill to sit the exams with everyone else.]
Francis joined the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons). Early in the war, he raised a Pioneer company composed of Arabs and Jews, in Palestine. He had reached the rank of Major when he was seconded to be the first Commanding Officer of the 22nd Independent Parachute Company in the winter of 1943-44. He was to recruit both volunteers and trained parachutists for this specialist unit.
At 0020 hours on June 6th 1944, D Day, with sixty of his pathfinders, he parachuted in to France. Their task was to mark the three “drop zones” which were to be used by the British Airborne Division.
At 18.00 the previous evening - All officers had attended the final briefing of R.A.F. crews.
At 23.00 - 2 sticks emplaned at Brize Norton.
The first Aircraft V 1701 - Albemarle - 296 Squadron carried
Major Francis Gordon Lennox-Boyd (KIA 06/06/44)
Private T. O'Brien
Sergeant L. Drake
Private R. Newton
Sergeant S. Patterson (Royal Army Medical Corps)
Private Hinchcliffe ?
Lieutenant Moore (attached from Royal Signals)
The second Aircraft P 1383 - Albemarle - 297 Squadron carried
Captain Ian Andrew Tait (KIA 09/06/44)
Sergeant Frederick Scogging (KIA 09/06/44)
Lance-Corporal G. Fairhurst
Private Edward Sidney Gillum (KIA 09/06/44)
Company Sergeant Major Bernard McGuinness
Corporal O. Kendall
At the same time four sticks emplaned at Harwell and half an hour later, one stick emplaned at Keevil
Two sticks commanded by Capt. Tait and Lt. More dropped on SE corner of Dropping Zone
00.23 - Maj Lennox-Boyd made premature & accidental exit SE of DZ. Has not been heard of since and is reported missing.
00.20 - Stick commanded by Lt. J. Vischer dropped across corner SE of DZ. This stick should have been dropped on DZ 'K', map.ref 1269.
00.35 - Lt. Vischer's stick assembled on DZ, contacted part of Capt. Tait's stick and set up 'EUREKA' beacon and 'T' of 5 lights. 'EUREKA' switched on to channels D/C, holophane lamp coding letter 'N'.
01.30 - All 3 sticks assembled at x-roads (125740) under Capt. Tait, with the exception of Maj. Lennox-Boyd and Pte. Newton (who re-joined the company 2 days later.)
The later comment on the Drop said “All 3 sticks were dropped somewhat off the Dropping Zone across the SE corner. Sticks were slow - heavy loads & cramped spacing in a/c. A number of kitbags broke loose during the drop & were lost. No jumping injuries were sustained by any of 3 sticks. No 'EUREKAS' were compromised, but 3 were damaged by the drop. At 03.50 - Marking of LZ 'N' for night glider landing (by Div. HQ troops) under Capt. Tait. 3 sticks commanded by Capt. Tait, Lt. Vischer & Lt. More set out lights on 3 separate landing strips. 2 'EUREKAS' were set up.
Comment on the Landing: Successful landing was made by most gliders, some overshooting the lights. It was later reported that the lights were clearly visible.
At 07.00 - The party made its way to company concentration area nr. Div. H.Q. at Le Bas Ranville.
The Post-Operational Summing up of the operation said
Two sticks of pathfinders from 22 Independent Parachute Company was to have been dropped on each dropping zone but, in each case, only a single stick was accurately dropped. In three cases, two or more runs over the zone were needed to deploy, one aircraft only completing its drop on the-third run, 14 minutes later. All the radar and visual beacons for dropping zone “V” (1 Canadian and 9 Parachute Battalions) were either lost or damaged, and one aircraft carrying a stick for dropping zone “K” (HQ 3 Parachute Brigade and 8 Parachute Battalion) dropped on zone “N” (5 Parachute Brigade) instead.
Not realizing that they were on the wrong dropping zone, the “K” pathfinders set up their beacons and lights on dropping zone “N”. The result was that a number of Headquarters 3 Parachute Brigade and 8 Parachute Battalion (with their CLE containers) personnel dropped on to dropping zone “N”, before the “N” pathfinders, who had been dropped awry, arrived and erected their equipment some half an hour late. In addition, some lighting systems were set in standing crops, and they were not able to seen from the air.
Francis died that day and is buried in Ranville War Cemetery Plot IIIA. G. 5.
He is commemorated on the Memorials at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; the Special Forces Memorial and by the oak pews in Henlow church.
The pews were designed by the eminent architect Sir Albert Richardson and given in memory of Francis and his brothers whose memorial tablet can be seen on the south wall of the church. Their brother, Alan, later 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton, had bought Henlow Grange, Bedfordshire in the mid-1930s.