Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Honored Allies Wednesday: Lorne M. Campbell (United Kingdom)

          Lorne MacLaine Campbell

"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.  Realizing 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 valor and utter disregard for personal safety, which could not have been excelled.  Realizing 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 reorganized 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 honor, and can seldom have been surpassed in the long history of the Highland Brigade."

From Brig. Campbell's Victoria Cross citation, awarded on June 4, 1943.

Another "lead from the front" officer who rallied his men to turn back Jerry!

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