John Lang­ford

The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

CHANG­ING HIS name to John Lang­ford, East Prus­sian-born Er­win Lehmann was body­guard to two prime min­is­ters, the shirt man­u­fac­turer who in­tro­duced coloured shirts, and win­ner of the 1987 Bri­tish Cloth­ing Coun­cil Ex­port Award.

One of the old­est chil­dren on the Kin­der­trans­port pro­gramme, he was 17 and a trainee as­sis­tant at the lo­cal exJewish-owned depart­ment store when he was im­pris­oned in the Kristall­nacht at­tack. His fa­ther, an army horse breeder in ear­lier times, got him re­leased on con­di­tion he left Ger­many within a month. He never saw his fa­ther again.

Arriving at Dover­court, a req­ui­si­tioned hol­i­day camp near Har­wich, with just eight­pence, he wrote to fam­ily friends now set­tled in Glasgow. The Jablon­skis took in seven refugee chil­dren and tried to train Er­win in Robert Jablon­ski’s trade of tea blend­ing.

Er­win en­rolled in­stead at the Royal Ve­teri­nary Col­lege in Glasgow, with help from the Jewish Refugee Com­mit­tee. But his child­hood dream was thwarted by in­tern­ment in 1940. On release, still mad about horses, he vol­un­teered for a cav­alry reg­i­ment but was re­jected as sur­plus to re­quire­ments and sent to the Pi­o­neer Corps.

In 1944 he vol­un­teered for the 6th Air­borne Divi­sion. An­gli­cis­ing his name, he was part of the D-Day fol­lowup forces in north­ern Ger­many. As a French and Ger­man speaker, he was tem­po­rar­ily di­verted for an in­ter­preter’s course in Brus­sels.

When war ended, he was taken off his divi­sion — which was despatched to keep the peace in Pales­tine — and sent to Ger­many as a staff sergeant in a se­cu­rity unit for a con­fer­ence in the his­toric town of Pots­dam, near Berlin in the Rus­sian zone.

When the Pots­dam Con­fer­ence, at­tended by the leaders of Bri­tain, the US and Rus­sia, opened on July 15, 1945, he served as body­guard for Win­ston Churchill.

When the re­sults of the Bri­tish gen­eral elec­tion were de­clared on July 26, he be­came body­guard for the new prime min­is­ter, Cle­ment At­tlee, for the rest of the con­fer­ence. He was nat­u­ral- ised in Ham­burg while still in uni­form, a rare hon­our.

Re­main­ing in Ger­many un­til Jan­uary 1947, based at Span­dau prison, he in­ter­ro­gated repa­tri­ated East Ger­man civil­ians and sol­diers re­turn­ing from PoW camps in Rus­sia. He then joined a shirt-man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness owned by a friend from his Pioneeer Corps days.

Af­ter 10 years as a top sales­man, he set up on his own in 1957. He re­tired from John Lang­ford of Lon­don in 1987 but be­came a con­sul­tant and sourced Bri­tish-made cloth­ing for an Amer­i­can firm un­til the end.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Vicky, whom he mar­ried in 1948; son, Lau­rence; daugh­ter, Ch­eryl; and three grand­chil­dren.

John Lang­ford: from prime min­is­te­rial body­guard to top shirt-maker

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.