Alexander Fraser “Sandy” Campbell GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 02/05/1898 Dalmellington, Ayrshire, Scotland. d. 18/10/1940 Coventry.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/10/1940 Coventry.

Alexander “Sandy” Fraser Campbell (1898-1940) was born on 2nd May 1898 in Dalmellington, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Archibald and Mary Campbell (nee Fraser). It seems that he was brought up by the Smith family, who lived in Dalmellington, from primary school age, as both his parents had passed away. Following schooling, he trained as an Electrical Engineer at Dunaskin, Waterside, 3 miles from Dalmellington. He also served in World War I with the Army Service Corps from August 1915 to 1917. He was later attached to the 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment then the Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division and the 10th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. At the end of the war, he returned to his previous occupation.

Alexander F “Sandy” Campbell GC

In 1938, he had a job in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, and in June that year, he married Agnes Hill, a school teacher from Dalmellington. They set up home on the Isle of Bute. Shortly afterwards, the Second World War broke out and Alexander was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 2nd July 1940 in Corps of Royal Engineers,  becoming part of 9 Bomb Disposal Company.

On 17th October 1940, he and Sergeant Michael Gibson were called to deal with an unexploded bomb which had fallen on the Triumph Engineering Company’s works in Coventry. War production in the two factories had stopped because of it, and a large number of people living nearby had been evacuated. Campbell found the bomb was fitted with a delayed action fuse which it was impossible to remove, so he decided to transport it to a safe place. This was done by lorry. He lay alongside the bomb so that he could hear if it started ticking and could warn Gibson, the driver, to stop and run for cover. Next the two men carried the bomb a mile to Whitley Common, where they successfully made the bomb safe. Both men were killed the following day trying to defuse another bomb.

On 22nd January 1941, the London Gazette announced the posthumous awards of the GC to Campbell and Gibson. Both men had been laid to rest in Commonwealth War Graves Commission plots in London Road Cemetery, Coventry. The GC was presented to his widow Agnes (nee Sharp) in October 1941, and she returned to Dalmellington and resumed her teaching career. She never re-married or had children. Eventually, Alexander’s medals including his GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, and War Medal 1939-45 were donated to the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent by his sister-in-law Mary, who inherited them after Agnes’ death.