Frederick William Campbell VC

b. 15/06/1867 Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. d. 19/06/1915 Boulogne, France.

Frederick William Campbell (1867-1915) was born on 15th June 1867 at Mount Forest, Oxford County, Ontario, Canada, although on his attestation papers it states 1869 as his birth year. His father was Ephraim B Campbell, a servant and later farmer living in Gleneden, Ontario. He subsequently settled at Normanby, Mount Forest, Oxford County, Ontario. His mother was Esther Hunt nee McLaughlin. She was of Irish origin and pre-deceased her husband. Frederick had three sisters, two older and one younger than him.

Frederick W Campbell VC

Frederick was educated at Mount Forest School before farming at Normanby, Ontario. He also bred horses, was appointed Public School Trustee of No 15 State School at Normanby and later became a director of the Mount Forest Agricultural Society. Before 1911 it was understood he spent 18 months in the United States.

Frederick’s military career began in 1885 when he joined 30th Wellington Battalion of Rifles, a Militia unit. About 1894 he enlisted in 5 Company, 13th Battalion Volunteer Militia (Infantry) at London, Ontario. When war broke out in South Africa, he served there with 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment in a Maxim machine gun team. He was in action in Cape Colony from 11th October 1899, at Paardeburg in February 1900, Dreifontein on 10th March 1900 and Johannesburg on 31st May 1900. He was Mentioned in Despatches, and was promoted to Sergeant and returned to Canada later in 1900, where he continued to serve in the Militia. He was commissioned as Lieutenant in 1902 and was later promoted to Captain. Frederick married Margaret Ann “Annie” nee McGillivray on 25th November 1903 at Mount Forest. He and Annie had three children: Arthur, Jean and Freda.

On the outbreak of World War One, he recruited in his local area before travelling to Valcartier Camp, Quebec on 17th August 1914 with a dozen volunteers. He enlisted in 1st Battalion at Valcartier on 23rd September with the rank of Lieutenant. The Battalion, 1,166 strong, arrived at Plymouth on 18th October 1914. It moved to Salisbury Plain to carry out basic training. The Battalion sailed for France on 8th February 1915, arriving at Merris near Hazebrouck on 14th February. Frederick was given command a Machine Gun Section.

The 1st Battalion incurred heavy losses in a counterattack northeast of Ypres on 23rd April. Over the next few weeks, Frederick was twice recommended for promotion and a decoration by his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel F.W. Hill.

On 15th June, 1915, during the action at Givenchy. Lt. Campbell took two machine-guns over the parapet, arrived at the German first line with one gun, and maintained his position there, under very heavy rifle, machine-gun and bomb fire, notwithstanding the fact that almost the whole of his detachment had then been killed or wounded. When our supply of bombs had become exhausted, this Officer advanced his gun still further to an exposed position, and, by firing about 1,000 rounds, succeeded in holding back the enemy’s counter-attack. This very gallant Officer was subsequently wounded, and has since died. As he was retreating, his right thigh bone was shattered.

He was admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station, from where he was transferred to No 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne on 17th June. Following surgery, the wound began to heal, but infection set in and he fell into a coma and died of heart failure at 3pm on 19th June 1915. He was buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. The VC was sent to Canada by the War Office on 28th August 1915 and was presented to his widow at Mount Forest, Oxford County, Ontario. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with four clasps, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and George V Coronation Medal 1911. The medals are held by the Ashcroft Trust.






Thomas Stewart – Medal Group Image at Imperial War Museum, London.