Lorne MacLaine Campbell

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Lorne MacLaine Campbell
Lorne MacLaine Campbell.jpg
Born 22 July 1902
Airds, Argyll, Scotland
Died 25 May 1991
Edinburgh, Scotland
Buried at Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1921-1945
Rank Brigadier
Commands held 7th Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
153rd Infantry Brigade
13th Infantry Brigade
Battles/wars World War II:
- France, 1940;
- North Africa campaign;
- Sicily;
- Italian Campaign
Awards
Relations Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell VC (uncle)

Brigadier Lorne MacLaine Campbell, VC, DSO & Bar, OBE, TD (22 July 1902 – 25 May 1991) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life[edit]

Lorne MacLaine Campbell was the eldest of three sons of Colonel Ian Maxwell Campbell, CBE and Hilda Mary Wade. He was schooled at the Dulwich College Preparatory School, and then at Dulwich College in South London between 1915 and 1921 (as was his uncle and fellow recipient of the Victoria Cross, Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell VC). Between 1921 and 1925 he attended Merton College, Oxford, where he was President of the Junior Common Room and of the Myrmidon Club and graduated with a second class degree in Literae Humaniores.

Military service[edit]

Campbell was commissioned into The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Territorial Army) on 23 September 1921.

In August 1939, his unit, 8th (The Argyllshire) Battalion was mobilised for war service. In France in 1940 he was awarded the DSO for gallant leadership during the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division's entrapment at Saint-Valery-en-Caux, where two battalions and the divisional commander were captured. At the Second Battle of El Alamein, he received a bar to his DSO for his part in the capture of important objectives.[1] In 1942 and 1943, he commanded 7th Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in North Africa, during which time he won his VC, and in April 1943, Campbell became acting commander of the 153rd Infantry Brigade. He took command of 13th Infantry Brigade in May 1943, serving in Syria, Egypt, Sicily and Italy until September 1944. Within this period, for eight days in April 1944, he was acting General Officer Commanding, 5th Infantry Division in Italy. Campbell ended the war in Washington D.C. as a brigadier with the British Army Staff.[2]

Victoria Cross[edit]

Campbell was a 40 years old temporary Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's), British Army, Commander during the Second World War at Wadi Akarit in Tunisia. The citation in the London Gazette read:

On the 6th April, 1943, in the attack upon the Wadi Akarit position, the task of breaking through the enemy minefield and anti-tank ditch to the East of the Roumana feature and of forming the initial bridgehead for a Brigade of the 51st Highland Division was allotted to the Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell. The attack had to form up in complete darkness and had to traverse the main offshoot of the Wadi Akarit at an angle to the line of advance. In spite of heavy machine gun and shell fire in the early stages of the attack, Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell successfully accomplished this difficult operation, captured at least 600 prisoners and led his Battalion to its objective, having to cross an unswept portion of the enemy minefield in doing so. Later, upon reaching his objective he found that a gap which had been blown by the Royal Engineers in the anti-tank ditch did not correspond with the vehicle lane which had been cleared in the minefield. Realising the vital necessity of quickly establishing a gap for the passage of anti-tank guns, he took personal charge of this operation. It was now broad daylight and, under very heavy machine-gun fire and shell fire, he succeeded in making a personal reconnaissance and in conducting operations which led to the establishing of a vehicle gap. Throughout the day Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell held his position with his Battalion in the face of extremely heavy and constant shell fire, which the enemy was able to bring to bear by direct observation. About 1630 hours determined enemy counter-attacks began to develop, accompanied by tanks. In this phase of the fighting Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell's personality dominated the battle field by a display of valour and utter disregard for personal safety, which could not have been excelled. Realising that it was imperative for the future success of the Army plan to hold the bridgehead his Battalion had captured, he inspired his men by his presence in the forefront of the battle, cheering them on and rallying them as he moved to those points where the fighting was heaviest. When his left forward company was forced to give ground he went forward alone, into a hail of fire and personally reorganised their position, remaining with the company until the attack at this point was held. As reinforcements arrived upon the scene he was seen standing in the open directing the fight under close range fire of enemy infantry and he continued to do so although already painfully wounded in the neck by shell fire. It was not until the battle died down that he allowed his wound to be dressed. Even then, although in great pain, he refused to be evacuated, remaining with his Battalion and continuing to inspire them by his presence on the field. Darkness fell with the Argylls still holding their positions, though many of its officers and men had become casualties. There is no doubt that but for Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell's determination, splendid example of courage and disregard of pain, the bridgehead would have been lost. This officer's gallantry and magnificent leadership when his now tired men were charging the enemy with the bayonet and were fighting them at hand grenade range, are worthy of the highest honour, and can seldom have been surpassed in the long history of the Highland Brigade.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Lorne Campbell's grave, Warriston Cemetery

In December 1935 he married Amy Muriel Jordan. The couple had two sons, Alastair Lorne Campbell of Airds (b. 1937) and Patrick Gordon Campbell (b. 1939).

He is buried in Warriston Cemetery in Edinburgh in the upper northern section.

Honours and awards[2][edit]

His medals are on display at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum in Stirling Castle.
Victoria Cross 8 June 1943
Distinguished Service Order 18 October 1940, 4 May 1943
Officer of the Order of the British Empire 8 June 1968
Territorial Decoration 2 December 1941
Mentioned in Despatches 29 June 1941, 13 January 1944, 24 August 1944, 23 June 1945
Officer, Legion of Merit (United States) 20 January 1947

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grant, Brig (Ret'd) C S (30 September 2010). "ST.VALéRY, JUNE 1940". 51st Highland Division. Trustees of the 51st Highland Division Trust Fund & the Highland Division Ross Bequest Fund. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. World War II unit histories & officers "British Army Officers - 1939-1945". World War II Unit Histories. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36045. p. 2623. 4 June 1943.

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