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Posthumous VC awarded 68 years ago today.

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#1 Peter Clare

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:29 AM

6 April 1941
No.22 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.
Bristol Beaufort I N1016 OA-X
Op: Brest.

F/O. K. Campbell VC +
Sgt. J P. Scott RCAF +
Sgt. W C. Mulliss +
F/S. R W. Hillman +

Took off at 0420 hrs from St.Eval as part of the torpedo wave of a two-force operation attacking the Gneisanau in Brest harbour. F/O. Campbell VC and his crew rest in Kerfautras Cemetery in Brest.

RAF Coastal Command Losses Vol.1 - McNeill.

Initials: K
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Flying Officer (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Unit Text: 22 Sqdn.
Age: 23
Date of Death: 06/04/1941
Service No: 72446
Awards: V C
Additional information: Son of James Campbell and of Jane Campbell (nee Highet), of Stevenston, Ayrshire. B.A.(Cantab.).
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 10.

Citation: The following details are given in "The London Gazette," of 13th March, 1942:

Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell was the pilot of a Beaufort aircraft detailed to attack an enemy battle cruiser in Brest Harbour at first light on the morning of the 6th April, 1941. The ship was in a position protected by a stone mole bending round it, and rising ground behind on which stood batteries of guns. Other batteries clustered thickly round the two arms of land which encircled the outer harbour, while three heavily armed anti-aircraft ships moored nearby guarded the cruiser. Even if an aircraft penetrated these formidable defences it would be almost impossible, after attacking at low level, to avoid crashing into the rising ground beyond. Knowing all this, Flying Officer Campbell ran the gauntlet of the defences and launched a torpedo at point-blank range, severely damaging the battle cruiser below water-line, so that she was obliged to return to the dock whence she had come only the day before. By pressing home the attack at close quarters in the face of withering fire, on a course fraught with extreme peril, this officer displayed valour of the highest order.
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In remembrance of my father Sgt S. Clare R.A.F Missing from operations 13th August 1942. Never Known, Forever Loved.

#2 dbf


    Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen?

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:51 AM

Pics of the Gneisenau in Brest here, incl. one of torpedo damage sustained on 6 Apr:
Gneisenau - Gallery - The Gneisenau at Brest, France
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#3 Owen



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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:14 PM

Photo of Campell VC
Posted Image
The Royal Air Force - History
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Disclaimer: Don't take anything I say seriously.

#4 dbf


    Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen?

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:24 PM

Painting on TNA site:
The National Archives | Research and learning | Exhibitions | The Art of War | Valour & Gallantry | Valour

and original citation:
The National Archives | Research, education & online exhibitions | Exhibitions | The Art of War | Valour & Gallantry
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#5 James S

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 10:19 AM

The attack made by F/O. Campbell as recounted in Richard Garrett's "Scharnhorst and Gneisenau - The Elusive sisters" ( David Charles 1978).

Posted Image

Given the damage inflicted on the ships when in Brest it must be said that F/O Campbell's attack did influence the decision to bring them back to German waters and helped shape the ultimate fate of Gneisenau.

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#6 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 01:41 PM

Such Heroism.

When you read the accounts of the defences it is hard to believe that it could have been anything other than a one way mission.

In laying down their lives, they surely saved many from later death, had the Gneisanau managed to get to open sea.

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Reconnaissance Corps - Only the enemy in front.

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