Campbell C

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Kenneth Campbell
Flying Officer
Royal Air Force

Born:21st April 1917
Ayrshire, Scotland

On 6 April 1941 over Brest Harbour, France, Flying Officer Campbell attacked the German battle-cruiser Gneisenau. He flew his Bristol Beaufort through the gauntlet of concentrated anti-aircraft fire from about 1000 weapons of all calibers and launched a torpedo at a height of 50 feet .

The attack had to be made with absolute precision: the Gneisenau was moored only some 500 yards (460 m) away from a mole in Brest's inner harbour. For the attack to be effective Campbell would have to time the release to drop the torpedo close to the side of the mole.

That Campbell managed to launch his torpedo accurately is testament to his courage and determination. The ship was severely damaged below the waterline and was obliged to return to the dock whence she had come only the day before, she was out of action for 6 months, which thus allowed allied shipping to cross the Atlantic without any threat.

Generally, once a torpedo was dropped an escape was made by low-level jinking at full throttle. Because of rising ground surrounding the harbour Flying Officer Campbell's Beaufort was forced into a steep banking turn, revealing its full silhouette to the gunners. The aircraft met a withering wall of flak and crashed into the harbour.

The Germans buried Campbell and his other three crew mates, Sgts. J P Scott DFM RCAF (navigator), R W Hillman (wireless operator) and W Mallis (air gunner), with full military honours.

His valour was only recognised when the French Resistance managed to leak news of his brave deeds to England. A memorial to him stands in his old school, Sedbergh, commemorating his brave deeds.