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William Balfour CAMPBELL was born at Leslie on 20 July 1894 and was the youngest child of John and Julia (nee Balfour) Campbell. Julia was my great grandmother Ann (nee Balfour) Watson’s elder sister, therefore William Balfour Campbell and my grandfather David George Watson were first cousins. David George was born on 21 January 1894, six months before his cousin.

William was commissioned into the British Army on 4 December 1914. This photo of him shows him wearing the uniform of the Gordon Highlanders.

photo william balfour campbellI wrote to the Gordon Highlanders Museum to see if they could tell me more about the photo. Today I received the following reply from Museum research volunteer Bert Innes:

While there is no known photograph of William Campbell  held in the Museum archives, the officer in the photograph is most certainly a Gordon Highlander

The jodhpurs or plus 4 type trousers, which were either of dark  cloth or Regimental Gordon Tartan; the boots, gaiters and spur devices and the uniform tunic with rank badge(s) are of the period.  The officer is wearing the Gordons’ glengarry headdress with the silver or white metal Regimental Staff cap badge.  Shown on the lapels of his Highland officers’ pattern tunic is the “SPHINX” “collar dogs” or badges.

It is difficult, from the stance of the officer, to give his rank with certainty, but this is shown on his left tunic sleeve cuff.  You will note the one “pip” or cloth diamond shaped badge of rank, with the possibility of one other “pip” hidden from view.  This officer was either a 2nd Lieutenant (one “pip”) or Lieutenant (two “pips”).

The Museum is aware of William Campbell’s military service of which I believe you are likewise.  I note his impressive group of medals were offered for sale a few years ago.

The above mentioned medals are shown below.

William-Balfour-Campbell-meThe photo of these medals came from a fabulous blog called British Army Medals – take a look at it if you have an interest in war medals. Thanks very much to the writer of the blog Paul Nixon for allowing me to use the image. This is the information he had on his blog post about William Balfour Campbell.

Medals held:
1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and MiD, General Service Medal 1918 (clasps Kurdistan and Iraq), India General Service Medal (clasp Waziristan 1921-24).

This from the medal dealer’s write-up at the time of purchase in March 2008:

A fine Officer casualty ‘MID’ group of 5: Major W.B. Campbell, 2nd Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment late 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders

– 1914-15 Star (Lieut W.B. Campbell, Gord Highrs)
– British War Medal 1914-18 (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– Allied Victory Medal. With oakleaf emblem for a Mention-in-Despatches (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– GSM 1918. GV first type with 2 clasps ‘Kurdistan’ & ‘Iraq’ (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– IGS 1908. GV type I & clasp ‘Waziristan 1921-24’ (Capt W.B. Campbell, 2-8 Punjab R)

Note: The group professionally court mounted by Spink

William Balfour Campbell, was born 20 July 1894, at 120 High Street, Leslie, Fife, Scotland. His father was described as being a ‘Railway Engine Driver’. His family later moved to St.Andrews, where the family resided at 158, South Street. Notwithstanding the prevailing social discrimination that worked against giving men from ‘working class’ backgrounds a commission, the onset of the Great War quickly challenged old attitudes to class and William Campbell was commissioned into the British Army on 4/12/1914, and appointed to serve with the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He first entered France and Flanders on 4/10/1915. He remained in France until 2/4/1916, on which date he was wounded in action by ‘GSW’ near St.Eloi, while serving as the battalion ‘Bombing Officer’ in charge of the ‘Grenade Section’ – a singularly hazardous appointment in any B.E.F. battalion. Indeed his section had been in action in the early hours of 2/4/1916 in a series of counter-attacks to regain a prominent position on the salient. 1/Gordon’s battalion war diary for the period refers;

” Three attempts were made in early morning to get back point 64 which the enemy was still holding. Canadian and Royal Scots bombing parties took part but attempts failed owing to the enemy occupation of a shallow trench in rear from which he could bomb 64 thereby preventing our occupation. There was some heavy shelling during the day. 2nd Lt. W.B. Campbell was wounded.”

William Campbell served just over 6 months in France and Flanders, before being invalided back to Scotland suffering from the wounds he had received in action. While in Scotland recovering, he applied for a transfer to the Indian Army. On 31st July 1917, his application was accepted. He embarked on a troopship for India on 11 October 1917 as a probationer for the Indian Army. He subsequently served in Mesopotamia from 15/5/1918 through to 1920. He was Mentioned-in-Despatches (MID) for his distinguished services in Iraq, the MID notification being published in the London Gazette of 9/9/1921. He appears to have retired from the Indian Army, with the rank of Major by 1930

With various copied research papers, including his Officers papers for the ‘British Service’ and the application/referrals for a commission in the ‘Indian Army’

Condition: GVF

The above text supplied by Aberdeen Medals.

William’s name appears in the University of St Andrews Roll of Honour and Roll of Service published in 1920.

rollofhonourroll00univ_0009rollofhonourroll00univ_0064 william balfour campbellThe * beside William’s name indicates that he was a member of the University OTC (Officers Training Corps).

By September 1921 William held the rank of Captain in the Indian Army. He appears on the following passenger lists in 1921, 1922 and 1924. Click on the images to enlarge them.

william balfour campbellTNA_BT27_0982_00_0003_P_0002FTNA_BT27_1054_00_0055_P_0001FWilliam never married and died, aged 54 years, at Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland on 10 May 1950. He died of chronic bronchitis, asthma and coronary thrombosis. It would appear he died alone as his death registration says he was found at 3.35pm and was last seen at 8.40am.  Grey Lodge was noted as his usual residence – I wonder if this was perhaps a boarding house. william balfour campbell death notice.

death william balfour campbell

 

 

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