Gordon Campbell (Royal Navy officer)

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Gordon Campbell
Captain Gordon Campbell
Born(1886-01-06)6 January 1886
Croydon, Surrey
Died3 July 1953(1953-07-03) (aged 67)
Isleworth, Middlesex
All Saints Churchyard, Crondall
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Years of service1900–1929
RankVice Admiral
Commands heldHMS Farnborough
HMS Dunraven
HMS Tiger
Battles/warsFirst World War
AwardsVictoria Cross
Distinguished Service Order & Two Bars
Légion d'honneur (France)
Croix de Guerre (France)
RelationsSir Edward Campbell, 1st Baronet (brother)
Brigadier Lorne MacLaine Campbell VC (nephew)
Other workMember of Parliament

Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell, VC, DSO & Two Bars (6 January 1886 – 3 July 1953) was a British naval officer, writer, politician and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre and appointed a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur for his actions during the First World War.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Born on 6 January 1886, he was educated at Dulwich College, which he attended between 1898 and 1900. He then joined the Royal Navy and was in October 1902 posted as a midshipman to the battleship HMS Irresistible serving in the Mediterranean Sea.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant in 1907 and to commander in March 1916. It was during the First World War that he was awarded the Victoria Cross for the following action.[3]

On 17 February 1917 in the north Atlantic, Commander Campbell, commanding HMS Farnborough (Q.5) (one of the "mystery" Q ships) sighted a torpedo track. He altered course and allowed the torpedo to hit Q.5 aft by the engine-room bulkhead. The 'Panic party' got away convincingly, followed by the U-boat. When the submarine had fully surfaced and was within 100 yards of Q.5—badly damaged and now lying very low in the water—the commander gave the order to fire. Almost all of the 45 shells fired hit the SM U-83 which sank. Q.5 was taken in tow just in time and was safely beached. On 22 March 1916, another U-boat, SM U-68 was sunk by Farnborough.

Campbell also commanded HMS Dunraven during the action of 8 August 1917 when she was sunk by SM UC-71.[4] Victoria Crosses were awarded to two members of the crew who were selected by ballot from amongst the crew of Dunraven, Lieutenant Charles George Bonner and Petty Officer Ernest Herbert Pitcher. Campbell received his second Bar to his Distinguished Service Order (DSO).[5]

Later life[edit]

Campbell later achieved the rank of vice admiral. He commanded the battlecruiser HMS Tiger 1925–27 and served as Naval Aide-de-Camp to George V 1928–29. In 1931, he was elected as National Member of Parliament for Burnley, defeating the Labour leader, Arthur Henderson. In 1935, however, standing as a National Liberal, he lost his seat.

In the Second World War he re-entered the Royal Navy in the rank of Commander and was responsible for anti-invasion measures around Padstow.[6]

Campbell wrote several publications, including the successful My Mystery Ships. His brother, Sir Edward Campbell, was also a Member of Parliament.

His Victoria Cross is held at his old school, Dulwich College.


  1. ^ A. C. Hampshire, "Campbell, Gordon (1886–1953)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2006 accessed 21 July 2008
  2. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36902). London. 18 October 1902. p. 9.
  3. ^ "No. 30029". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 April 1917. p. 3819.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UC-71". U-Boat War in World War I. Uboat.net. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  5. ^ Gazette Issue 30363 published on the 30 October 1917 p11315
  6. ^ Tempting the Fates,17 Aug 200, Dare Wilson


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Henderson
Member of Parliament for Burnley
Succeeded by
Wilfrid Burke