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Auction 90  23 Nov 2017
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Lot 194

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Estimate: 300 000 GBP
Price realized: 700 000 GBP

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The Unique 'Mystery' Victoria Cross and triple D.S.O. group of 11 awarded to Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell, Royal Navy, the celebrated Q-Ships Captain and author of the best-selling My Mystery Ships, published in 1928. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross whilst Commander of H.M.S. Q5 or Farnborough, 'for conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness, and skill in command' shown during the sinking of the German Submarine U.83 on 17 February 1917. Having deliberately steered his vessel into the path of a U-Boat torpedo, and having then drawn in the enemy submarine through the ruse of a 'panic party' as she slowly sank, after half an hour the guns of Q-5 finally opened fire at close quarters and sank the enemy vessel in 'what may be regarded as the supreme test of naval discipline.' Gordon Campbell later subsequently declined the potential award of a bar to his Victoria Cross (following nomination by his fellow officers) whilst Captain of H.M.S. Pargust, having successfully deployed the same tactics and having duly sunk UC.29 on 7 June 1917, comprising: Victoria Cross, suspension bar and reverse centre engraved 'Comdr G. Campbell, D.S.O. Royal Navy. / 17. Feb. 1917.'; Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., in silver-gilt and enamels, with 2 clasps, both privately engraved on their reverses with dates of award 'June 7th 1917.' and 'Aug. 8th 1917.'; 1914-15 Star (Lt. Commr. G. Campbell, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals, 1914-1919 (Capt. G. Campbell. R.N.); Defence and War Medals, 1939-1945, unnamed as issued; Coronation, 1937, officially engraved in capitals (Admiral Gordon Campbell. V.C.); Coronation, 1953, unnamed; France, Légion d'Honneur, Officer's breast badge in gold and enamels, with rosette on ribbon; France, Croix de Guerre, with palm, 1914-1918; Group court-mounted on bar with reverse brooch pin as worn by the recipient, in original navy-blue leather and gilt-embossed case by Gieves Ltd., Old Bond Street, London, minor marks from wearing and slight enamel loss to D.S.O. from court-mounting next to V.C., about extremely fine, a truly magnificent group (11). V.C.: London Gazette: 21 April 1917 – 'In recognition of his conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness, and skill in command of one of H.M. Ships in action'. (Original recommendation notes: '...when he sank a German submarine on 17th Feby. 1917. Although his ship had been torpedoed and was sinking whilst he allowed the enemy submarine to circle round until she came into a position where all guns would bear.'). D.S.O: London Gazette: 31 May 1916 – 'for services in command of British submarines operating in the Baltic Sea' (Original recommendation notes: 'Success of the operation was due to the thorough organisation & good nerve with which it was carried out' and 'promoted to Commander'). Bar to D.S.O.: London Gazette: 20.07.1917 - 'for services in action with enemy submarines' (Original recommendation notes: 'On the 7 June 1917 sank an enemy submarine by gun fire. He reserved fire for 35 minutes in order to ensure the complete destruction of the submarine, although his ship was crippled and unable to move. T. L. high commendation expressed to Cdr Campbell, officers and men, for the admirable discipline and courage shown by them in this encounter, which will stand high in the records of gallantry of the Royal Navy.'). Second Bar to D.S.O: London Gazette: 2 November 1917 - 'for services in action with enemy submarines' (Original recommendation notes: 'T. L. admiration expressed to Capt. Campbell, Officers and Men under his orders of the magnificent discipline and gallantry displayed by them on 8 August 1917 in an action with an enemy submarine. H.M. The King has been pleased to state that "greater bravery than was shown by all Officers and Men on this occasion can hardly be conceived". The action lasted over 3 hours and the Dunraven was torpedoed & eventually sunk, but all hands were saved by one of H.M. Ships.'). France, Legion d'Honneur, Officer: London Gazette: 25 January 1918. France, Croix de Guerre: London Gazette: 2 November 1917. Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell V.C., D.S.O. was born on 6 January 1886 in Croydon, Surrey, the son of Colonel Frederick Campbell of Airds and Ardnamurchan, and Emilie Guillaumine Maclaine. His father, the First Commandant of the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion, had served in the Royal Artillery in the New Zealand War of 1864-66 and hailed from an old Scottish family with a long and prestigious military pedigree, being himself the 9th generation (with one exception) in a line of army officers. His mother Emilie was the daughter of Donald Maclaine, the 20th Clan Chief of the Maclaines of Lochbuie, on the Isle of Mull, who had made his fortune in Java. As one of 16 children from this marriage, of whom 8 would attend Dulwich College, Gordon Campbell completed his education at Dulwich before joining the Royal Navy as a Naval Cadet on 15 September 1900. He attended the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, passing out on 15 January 1902 and being appointed to Midshipman one month later. His first years were spent aboard H.M. Ships Prince George, Irresistible and Flora, on the Channel, Mediterranean and Pacific Stations respectively. He afterwards returned to England for several months for an operation upon an old rugby-playing injury to his right knee which frustrated much of his early career, despite him otherwise being of 'splendid physique'. Returning to fitness, he was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 15 April 1905, where his officer had already marked him out as 'very plucky'. He subsequently spent roughly a year at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, to study and then pass the various examinations required for further advancement, showing much promise in so doing. He was appointed to the Destroyer H.M.S. Arun (Vivid), before being duly promoted to Lieutenant on 1 October 1907. His service papers note some particularly insightful comments made by Commander Ricardo: 'Exceptional...Most promising, & of marked ability. Exceptionally good disciplinarian'. It was this same mastery of discipline that would later save his life and the lives of his crew on many occasions, and would also eventually earn him the Victoria Cross. His service continued aboard H.M.S. Hawke from 16 November 1907, and then aboard King Alfred on 16 January 1908, seeing service on the China station, when again he was found unfit in April 1910, presumably relating once more to his knee injury. He was sent to the King Edward VII's Hospital for Officers in Westminster, London, for treatment, and battled for fitness until August that year. He resumed active service with spells aboard Impregnable (during which time he was married, on 1 June, 1911) and Vivid, before taking command of the aging Destroyer Ranger on 10 October 1912 and then the Destroyer Bittern (Vivid) in April 1913. He was aboard this ship when hostilities were begun against Germany and its allies at the outbreak of WWI in 1914, and operating from Plymouth, Bittern was put to work escorting ships in the Channel, searching for submarines and rescuing other Allied vessels. Having blown her engines on one particular 'wild-goose chase', as he called it, in search of an enemy submarine, Campbell suddenly found himself without a ship. Gordon Campbell was very frustrated by these events, but as he later recalled in My Mystery Ships (p. 31), his life was about to take a sudden change of course: 'Over a year in the English Channel, without sighting the enemy or smelling powder, had made me restless, and I had visions of the war ending without firing a shot. The idea was particularly galling, as we were continually escorting our gallant troops on their way to the fighting line and also seeing the wounded returning in the hospital ships. I was sent for by the Admiralty and asked if I would like to go in for some "special service", but was not given any details...I had also heard faint rumours of one or two mystery ships in the Channel, and without a minute's hesitation I accepted the "special service".' To undertake these "special services" he was given command of the old collier Loderer, which he initially reviewed with some disappointment until the specific nature of this new work had fully dawned upon him. He was given 3 twelve-pounder guns and a maxim with which to fit out this 'typical tramp' to his own specific designs and requirements, and with a freshly-drafted crew. The guns were disguised to appear as typical ship's features, and Gordon Campbell and his officers spent much time learning proper Merchant Marine procedure and terminology, to appear as 'genuine' as possible once at sea. Towards the end of the fitting out period, a rumour emerged that the enemy had got wind of the new Mystery Ship, so Lt. Campbell suggested to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly (the great Q-Ship exponent, in charge of the South Western Approaches) that he should change the ship's name and create a new rumour that the old ship had been sunk. It was then, sailing from Plymouth to Queenstown (the port from which 'Q-Ships' took their name) in late October 1915 that they opened an envelope showing the ship's newly allocated name – Farnborough. This 'new' ship, alongside Baralong, Zyphla, and somewhat later the smaller ships Vala and Penshurst, formed the new weapon with which to fight the German U-Boat menace. Now at sea, Campbell set about training his crew for 'panic party' simulations, and for drills to release the gun coverings ready for quick-fire broadsides. These were practiced with the greatest of discipline until perfect to a man – with Campbell making quite clear that 'any one man could spoil the show' (My Mystery Ships, p. 59, refers). In the course of the war, Campbell and his crew would go to incredible lengths to make the 'show' as realistic as possible, with his more famous deceptions including dressing up a rating in female clothes, placed prominently on a deck chair on the poop deck, and equipping one member of the 'panic party' with a bright green dummy parrot in a cage. The Q-Ship Baralong had already accounted for the first two U-Boat sinkings made by a 'Mystery Ship', and Campbell was keen to engage the enemy and play his part. His first opportunity came on 22 March 1916 during an encounter with U-68 off the west coast of Ireland. The enemy vessel, on her first mission and under the command of Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Güntzel, fired a torpedo which narrowly missed Farnborough's bow. Campbell kept his ship on course at the same speed, whilst U-68 closed to 1,000 yards astern and fired a shot across the Q-Ship's bow. At this point, Campbell gave his well-drilled crew the order to start their ruse – blowing off steam and sending out the 'panic party' to simulate surrender. As the enemy moved closer still to 800 yards, the white ensign was revealed, and Campbell chose his moment to attack. Swiftly uncovering the guns, three of Farnborough's 12-pounders, a Maxim and a number of rifles were brought to bear on the enemy, registering multiple hits to the submarine's conning tower. As she submerged, two depth charges were released which blew U-68's bow out of the water. Further hits were registered on the conning tower as she rapidly sank stern-first, being lost with all hands (38). For this first success Campbell was awarded his first D.S.O. and was promoted to the rank of Commander on 29 March, 1916, above the heads of the 700 Lieutenant-Commanders on the Navy List. Campbell and his crew damaged another U-Boat on 15 April 1916, upon which they scored a handful of hits at range, but which managed to escape. Despite the success of his recent encounters, and having achieved one of only two Q-ship victories in 1916, Campbell continued to engage the enemy in an increasingly aggressive and effective manner. Realizing that his first success owed much to the apparent inexperience of his opponent, he chose even more extreme measures in providing 'live human bait' (Stephen Snelling's 'The Naval VCs' refers) in the encounters to come. He later recalled: 'I came to the conclusion that the only way for us to ensure decoying the enemy to the surface was deliberately to get the idea now was that the ship would be manoeuvred so as to make the torpedo hit'. Returning to the seas off the south-west coast of Ireland after a refit, Germany's new 'unrestricted' submarine offensive was unleashed in February 1917, and Campbell knew that another chance would soon come to engage with the enemy. On the 17 February 1917, Farnborough (or Q-5 as she was officially known) was returning to Queenstown after several days of rough weather when a torpedo was spotted on the starboard side, having again been fired cautiously by U-83 (under the command of Kapitänleutnant Bruno Hoppe) from some distance away. Campbell now seized the opportunity to put his new theory into practice, and he ensured that Q-5's course would meet that of the torpedo – only steering at the last moment to prevent a direct hit on the engine room and unnecessary loss of life. The impact shook the vessel and its crew, whereupon the ruse of organized chaos commenced once again. Regaining his footing and composure, Campbell saw a few men on the foredeck remaining 'calm': 'After getting up, I observed a thing which I hadn't foreseen and couldn't help laughing at. It will be remembered that we had drilled for nearly every emergency, and how I would say "Torpedo coming" and the "Torpedo hit" or "Torpedo missed". Now the torpedo had hit and I saw the men rushing for the boats, but on looking over the front of the bridge I saw a group of men smoking and lolling over the ships' side when they ought to have been "panicking". I shouted why the something something they weren't rushing for the boats. The reply was, 'Waiting for the order sir. "Torpedo hit!". They then joined in the pandemonium...' This light-hearted incident well illustrates the sense of iron-discipline which had been instilled, as well as the rather sanguine humour seen aboard a Q-Ship under constant risk of attack. With the full pantomime 'show' of lifeboats and panic now fully underway, and without any signal being sent for assistance (lest a rescue ship might get in the way), Campbell waited for further any signs of the U-Boat as his own ship listed heavily: "He... came past the ship on the starboard side, about 5 yards off the lifeboats and 10 yards off the ship, so close that I could see the whole hull of the submarine distinctly...The temptation to fire was almost unbearable. He passed close across the bow and broke surface about 300 yards on the port bow at 10.5am and I then made the signal 'Torpedoed'. He came down on the surface past the port side; I waited til he was on the only bearing on which all my guns could bear, and opened fire at point-blank range." Again, the coverings fell away in an instant, and as the white ensign was run up the first shot from the 6-pounder decapitated the enemy U-boat captain at the conning tower. Taken by complete surprise, Q-5 battered the enemy ship with her full firepower, with 45 shells fired in addition to the many rounds fired by the Maxim gun. The U-Boat then rapidly began to sink, with her conning tower shattered and open. Eight survivors made attempts to escape the stricken submarine, but only two – an officer and a crewman – were able to be saved from the water, which Campbell described as being 'thick with blood and oil'. Having done all he could for the enemy crew, his attention now became focused on the task of saving his ship, which was filling rapidly and was in real danger of sinking. He signalled for all remaining crew to move to the ship's boats (except a few key individuals, including his First Lieutenant Ronald Stuart and Engineer Lieutenant Len Loveless), saw to the destruction of all confidential records and books, and sent a now famous message to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, in typically understated fashion: "Q5 slowly sinking respectfully wishes you good-bye." Having prepared for the worst, the destroyers Narwhal and Buttercup came to his aid within just an hour. After many hours of determined towing and the untimely explosion of a depth charge, Campbell masterfully handled his sinking ship. Farnborough – listing at nearly 20 degrees and under 8 feet of water – was eventually beached by tugs at Mill Cove, with the salvage of all of her guns and much undamaged equipment. Admiral Bayly's message in reply to Campbell was equally modest but clearly showed his delight: 'Very good piece of work. Well done.' This delight was shared by the whole Royal Navy, with an impressive £1,000 distributed amongst the 40 crewmembers as well as a large number of decorations awarded. Lieutenant Stuart and Engineer-Lieutenant Loveless each received a D.S.O., with three other officers receiving the D.S.C., and twenty-four crewmen receiving a mention in despatches. The crowning reward was, however, that of the Victoria Cross to Gordon Campbell, which was presented to him by the King at Buckingham Palace on 7 March 1917. The award of a V.C. to Gordon Campbell had appeared in the Court Circular prior to its proper announcement in the London Gazette, and as such the award was picked up by the newspapers - being christened 'The Mystery V.C.' (My Mystery Ships, p. 192, refers). The 'tantalising lack of detail' provided in the V.C. citation as published by the London Gazette on 21 April 1917 'for conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness, and skill in command of one of H.M. Ships in action' only added to the air of mystery and intrigue. It should be noted that this was the very first instance in which a V.C. had been so deliberately shrouded in secrecy for fear of undermining the secret work of these 'Mystery Ships'. As fate would have it, German intelligence ascribed to Campbell some involvement in an entirely different incident, and he ended up with a price put on his head notwithstanding. Having formally had the beached Q-5 paid off, Gordon Campbell set about choosing a new ship. Having already considered three ships unsuitable, he was given leave to choose his own – eventually settling upon the tramp steamer S.S. Vittoria in Cardiff Docks. This new vessel, once requisitioned and refitted to Campbell's requirements (two torpedo tubes, one four-inch gun, four 12-pounders and Lewis guns, and one 'false' gun), was renamed Snail and then, finally, H.M.S. Pargust. Retaining his old crew, they returned to the same sea-channel off the coast of Ireland, where further encounters with enemy submarines would soon follow. After being told of an omen by a crewmember on 6 June (whereby a bird had flown into Campbell's cabin, as it had on every other occasion the day before a submarine encounter), sure enough on 7 June, a torpedo was spotted. Kapitänleutnant Ernst Rosenow's minelayer-class submarine UC-29 fired from close range, with her torpedo striking the Pargust's engine room, killing Stoker Petty Officer Isaac Radford, and tearing a 40 foot hole in her hull at the waterline. The impact shook loose the starboard gun port, and it was only the quick thinking and brute strength of Seaman William Williams D.S.M., who, by taking the entire weight of the gun port on his shoulders until an ideal moment came to attack, single-handedly prevented 'giving the game away'. The 'show' was swiftly put into motion once again, with panic parties being dispatched into boats (including the aforementioned green parrot) as part of the chaotic and panicked display. As the last boat cleared the damaged ship, a periscope was spotted 400 yards off the port beam. Soon after the U-Boat re-appeared astern and surfaced, before being led by one panic party (under the command of Lieutenant Hereford) to a position just 50 yards from Pargust's guns. The white ensign was run up, and the guns revealed as they inflicted repeated strikes upon the enemy submarine's exposed conning tower. The submarine began to list to port, and a number of the shaken crew emerged on deck. After Campbell's order to cease fire, the submarine attempted to make its escape, so Campbell gave the order to resume the attack. No chances were taken, and the submarine suffered an explosion at its bow-end before sinking sharply below the water. Pargust's gun-teams had sunk the enemy ship in just four minutes, with thirty-eight rounds spent and one torpedo which had narrowly missed. One officer and one crew member were saved from the water ("We've again got a sample of each", Lieutenant Hereford reported), but all other hands were lost. Having received assistance from H.M. Ships Crocus and Zinnia, as well as the U.S.S. Cushing (the U.S.A. had entered the war just 2 months previously), Pargust was towed back to Queenstown, once again to the congratulations of Admiral Bayly. The sum of £1,000 was again distributed, but the matter of awards caused the Admiralty some difficulty, and no one man could be singled out for the award of a V.C. amongst so many deserving candidates. It was therefore decided that for the very first time, the King should approve the first 'elected' V.C. awards to a ship's crew, settled by ballot, with one officer and one man to be chosen amongst the officers and crew themselves in accordance with Clause 13 of the Victoria Cross Warrant. Gordon Campbell was initially approached by his fellow officers so that he might receive a second Victoria Cross. This would have made him the first Naval Officer in history to receive a bar to his V.C. but Campbell declined, adding that he 'already felt that the Victoria Cross I wore was on behalf of my crew and through no special act of my own' (My Mystery Ships, p. 228 refers). The ballot was arranged by an officer from 'outside' the ship, and the result led to the awards of Victoria Crosses to Lieutenant R. N Stuart, D.S.O., the First Lieutenant (and second in command), and to Seaman William Williams, who had so gallantly held the weight of the gun-port. Campbell received a bar to his D.S.O. as well as a promotion to Captain over the heads of some 500 Commanders. Fourteen of his crew men were also rewarded with decorations. Leaving the Pargust to be paid off, Campbell's final Q-Ship was the Dunraven. Slightly larger than his last ship, and armed with a real 2½ pounder defensive gun, she was fitted out with 'a host of new gadgets' and specialized equipment. Reports of activity in the Bay of Biscay led Gordon Campbell to a new hunting ground, and he disguised his ship as a Blue Funnel steam with deck cargo and collapsible railway trucks as if heading to the Middle East. After several days without any sign of the enemy, he doubled back along his course on 7 August 1917, into the path of UC-71 which had been sighted in the distance. The wary submarine kept its distance, eventually surfacing before opening fire with its guns. Campbell tried a new ruse this time, hoisting the red ensign and returning deliberately wild and inaccurate fire from the Dunraven's only 'true' deck gun: "I ordered much smoke to be made but at the same time reduced speed to 7 knots (with an occasional zig-zag) to give him a chance of closing...the submarine's firing was very poor...At 12.25 he turned broadside on and re-opened fire; in the meantime my gun was firing intentionally short. During this period I made 'en clair' signals for the submarine's benefit such as 'Submarine chasing and shelling me'... (and) ... I made a 'cloud of steam' to assume boiler trouble and ordered 'Abandon ship'." As a final ruse, the gun team of the 2½ pounder gun were evacuated to the ship's boats, and the full 'panic party' sent out. Dunraven then took several hits to the poop deck, setting off a depth charge, and creating a fiery havoc on deck, which threatened a quantity of cordite and a host of other munitions, as well as the 4-inch gun crew, who could feel the heat above and below them. Knowing that if they emerged the game would be up, they decided to chance their fate by remaining hidden in position 'in an act of self-sacrifice of the highest order' ('The Naval VCs' refers). As the U-Boat came to within 400 yards the cordite exploded, sending the entire gun crew into the air, but all of whom miraculously survived despite serious wounds and burns. P.O. Ernest Pitcher, leader of the gun team, was wounded in a number of places, and Lieutenant Bonner, who had been blown up earlier with the depth charge and now suffered from burns and a head injury, reported to Campbell: 'I am sorry, sir, for leaving my gun without orders. I think I must have been blown up.' This U-boat was far more wary than those previously encountered, and continued to keep her distance. Two shots from the Dunraven's after-bridge gun were believed to have struck the conning tower, after which the U-boat submerged again – now aware of her true enemy. A torpedo was sent in retaliation, striking the Dunraven at 1.20pm just abaft the engine room, causing Campbell to deploy his final trick ordering 'Q abandon ship' while still keeping his remaining gun teams in place, and while signalling all other friendly ships to keep away. For an hour the submarine prowled and kept her distance as Dunraven struggled with fires, explosions and a breach in her side. The submarine resurfaced dead astern, where no guns could be brought to bear, and bombarded Campbell's ship for 20 minutes, scoring multiple hits including two upon the bridge, through which Campbell's life was saved only thanks to some recently-installed armour plate. Still they held their nerve. Finally, knowing that time was short and seeing a chance opportunity, Dunraven fired two torpedoes, both of which narrowly missed by just inches. The submarine then submerged and left the scene, thus ending what Keble Chatterton rightly described as Campbell's greatest Q-Ship battle, lasting some 4 hours in total. As Campbell emerged onto the bridge, a crewmember in the boats shouted: "My oath, there's the blooming skipper still alive, Wouldn't the Huns give ninepence an inch for him!" The American ship U.S.S. Noma, coming to their aid, sighted and fired at a periscope but saw no more of the enemy thereafter. As Campbell said in summary: "My ship had been perfectly fitted out, and as for my crew, words can't say what I think – not a man failed, not a man could have done more." After the evacuation of the wounded and the remaining crew, 36 hours of determined work followed in order to save the ship, with the assistance of the British destroyers Attack and Christopher. This was to no avail, as the Dunraven was finally abandoned to sink in the early hours of 10 August. Campbell and his crew were rewarded with a greater number of honours than ever before; Campbell himself was recognized with a further bar to his D.S.O. 'for an action that more than justified a bar to his V.C.' (as Stephen Snelling writes in 'The Naval VCs'), and Seaman Williams V.C. added a bar to his D.S.M.. Two Victoria Crosses were once again awarded, this time to Dunraven's First Lieutenant, Charles Bonner, and another to P.O. Ernest Pitcher, who was elected to receive the award on behalf of the 4-inch gun crew, the remainder of whom all received the C.G.M.. In a letter to Campbell soon after, the American Admiral W. S. Sims wrote: 'I know nothing finer in naval history than the conduct of the after gun crew.' After this final, nerve-wracking encounter, Campbell was taken off further Q-ship duties at the insistence of Admiral Bayly. Bayly wrote: 'The only time we came near to a disagreement was when I told him that as a Captain RN at an exceptionally early age, with the honours His Majesty had given him, he must give up the dangerous game of mystery shipping and must take up the ordinary duties of a naval officer in war.' He became Bayly's Flag-Captain aboard Active, taking charge of all anti-submarine operations in the Irish Sea, before taking up the dual role of Senior Naval Officer at Holyhead and Commander of a destroyer flotilla - during which time a clandestine attempt was made upon his life by way of a booby-trapped fishing line fitted to a bomb. Campbell emerged unscathed although two crewmen were injured. At the end of the War he proudly attended the V.C. Garden Party of 26 June 1920, where he, together with Lieutenant Bonner V.C., formed part of the Naval Group (Group No.1) of 24 naval recipients. Soon afterwards, on 11th November, he had the unique privilege of leading the 100-strong V.C. Guard of Honour at the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. Held on the second anniversary of the Armistice and on the date which has since become Remembrance Day, the event 'left a great impression' upon Gordon Campbell, providing as it did some measure of closure for so many bereaved families. Captain Campbell adjusted uneasily to life in peacetime, undertaking various training roles, the position of Captain-in-charge of Simonstown dockyard in South Africa, and subsequently that of Captain of the battlecruiser Tiger between 1925 and 1927. He then began writing his memoirs, published as 'My Mystery Ships' in 1928, the first of a number of books - including books for children - which were to follow. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 5 April 1928 and attended the lavish V.C. Dinner-Party held by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales at the House of Lords, where 300 V.C. winners gathered, with seating arranged by ballot. Campbell recalls in his book 'Number Thirteen' that he was 'very much touched when the four officers and men who had been awarded V.C.s under my command asked me to lead them past H.R.H., so that we all went together like old times'. He was made A.D.C. to the King for a short time before moving into politics – becoming Conservative M.P. for Burnley in the 1931 General Election by a majority of some 8,000 votes over Arthur Henderson, a strong Labour candidate and Secretary of the Party. Suffering a heart attack in 1934, Campbell lost his Parliamentary seat the following year, returning to the worlds of books and public speaking. Having been promoted to Vice-Admiral on 31 December 1932, he remained on the retired list until the outbreak of the Second World War, which saw him recalled to active service at the request of his friend, Winston Churchill. This proved to be short-lived, as Q-Ships were seen as weapons of the past and in the absence of any notable new successes to support the project, it was soon abandoned. Campbell was however content to serve as a Commander and Resident Naval Officer at Padstow, in charge of anti-invasion measures, until 1943 when his health once more deteriorated. Retiring for a second time, he returned to his writing as his constitution weakened in the following years. He died at Isleworth, Middlesex, on 3 October 1953, and was buried in All Saint's Churchyard, in Crondall, Hampshire. His passing was widely lamented and the Portsmouth Evening News of 6 October 1953 proclaimed: 'for cold courage his exploits against German U-boats may be occasionally equalled, but never exceeded.' Campbell is recognised as the greatest of all Q-Ship commanders, with three enemy submarines sinkings to his name (and another damaged), and he was the recipient of multiple gallantry awards. His medal group was inherited by his son, Father David Campbell, who placed it on loan into the care of Gordon Campbell's school Dulwich College, to whom the Vice Admiral had already personally presented the binnacle from one of his Q-Ships. A portrait was commissioned by the College, where it hangs alongside those of other former alumni who have received the Victoria Cross including that of the Vice Admiral's nephew Colonel Lorne Campbell of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, whose V.C. was won in North Africa in 1943. Provenance: Father David Campbell bequeathed his father's medals to The Fellowship of St John (UK) Trust Association, an Anglican charity working in education and mission. The entire sale proceeds will be used to support projects all over the world with which the Fellowship is involved.
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