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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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22 squadron crest
06.04.1941 No. 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.)

Type: Beaufort I

Serial: N1016

Code: OA-X

Base: RAF St. Eval

Location: Brest Harbour, France

Pilot: F/O. Kenneth Campbell VC. 72446 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Observer: Sgt James Philip Scott R/63912 RCAF Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Cecil Mulliss 746872 RAFVR Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ralph Walter Hillman 643257 RAF Killed


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.

Burial Details:

F/O. Kenneth Campbell VC. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 10. Son of James Campbell and of Jane Campbell (nee Highet), of Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sgt. James Philip Scott. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 4. Grave 6. Son of Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Scott of Toronto, Canada.

Sgt. William Cecil Mulliss. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 5. Grave 12. Son of Henry Robert and Alice Loseby Mulliss, husband of Ethel Mary Mulliss, of Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Ralph Walter Hillman. Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery. Plot 40. Row 9. Grave 14. Son of Walter J. Hillman (1881-1918) and Grace Elizabeth (née Sutton - 1888-1942)

Additional information on Fl/Sgt. Hillman provided by Charles Ellson - November 2015. Researched for relatives of the crew.

KTY 07-11-2015 - Additional info added - courtesy Charles Ellson

RW 12.01.2017 - News cutting re Kenneth Campbell and James Scott added

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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