22 Squadron Beaufort I N1016 OA-X F/O. Kenneth Campbell V.C.
Operation: Brest (Gneisenau)
Date: 6th April 1941 (Sunday)
Unit: 22 Squadron (Coastal Command) (motto: Preux et audicieux - 'Valiant and Brave')
Type: Beaufort I
Base: RAF St. Eval, Cornwall,
Location: Brest Harbour, France
Pilot: F/O. Kenneth Campbell VC. 72446 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Observer: Sgt James Philip Scott R/63912 RCAF Age 19. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Cecil Mulliss 746872 RAFVR Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ralph Walter Hillman 643257 RAF Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
This aircraft took off from its base at St Eval at 04:20 hrs. as part of the torpedo wave of a two-force operation attacking the Gneisenau in Brest Harbour.
F/O. Kenneth Campbell VC (IWM) Kenneth's grave at Kerfautras, Brest.
22 Squadron "A" flight November 5th 2011, showing dedication to Kenneth Campbell below squadron logo - Kindly supplied by Michael Screech of the South Western Aviation Group
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."
Bristol Beaufort Aircraft.
Gneisenau and drawing of F/O. Campbell's attack on the Gneisenau by unknown artist 1943.
A brave attempt by a photographic reconnaissance pilot to secure evidence ot the position of the German battle cruisers in Brest. Through the dawn mist the Scharnhorst can be seen in dry dock, next to which is an empty dock from which the Gneisenau was moved to the quayside position indicated by the lower arrow. The markings are the photographic interpreters on the negative.
F/O. Kenneth Campbell VC. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 10. Born on the 21st April 1917 in Saltcoats, Scotland. Son of James Campbell (died 17th December 1957, age 82) and of Jane Mathie-Morton Campbell (née Highet - died 27th July 1925, age 47), of Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland. Epitaph: 'Youngest Son Of James Campbell, Kerelaw, Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland'. Epitaph: 'Youngest Son Of James Campbell, Kerelaw, Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland'.
Sgt. James Philip Scott. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 4. Grave 6. Born on the 12th September 1921 in Toronto, Canada. Son of Robert Bruce Scott (died 26th January 1941, age 63) and Mary Gertrude Scott (née Herdman) of Poplar Plains Road, Toronto, Canada.
Sgt. William Cecil Mulliss. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 5. Grave 12. Son of Henry Robert (died 15th October 1945, age 67) and Alice Loseby Mulliss (died 01st January 1943, age 65) Husband of Ethel Mary Mulliss, of Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England. Epitaph: 'Lay It As A Foundation To Be Always In Duty; Never To Quit That Whatever It Be'.
Fl/Sgt. Ralph Walter Hillman. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 9. Grave 14. Born in Edmonton, London 1918. Son of Walter John Hillman (killed 09th October 1918 whilst serving with Gloucestershire Regiment) and Grace Elizabeth (née Sutton - died of stomach cancer in 1942) of Lindum Hotel, 309 Manninham Lane, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
Additional information on Fl/Sgt. Hillman provided by Charles Ellson - November 2015. Researched for relatives of the crew.