John Vaughan Campbell VC DSO

b. 31/10/1876 London. d. 21/05/1944 Woodchester, Gloucestershire.

John Vaughan Campbell (1876-1944) was born in London on 31st October 1876. His father was Captain The Honorable Ronald George Elidor Campbell, who was commissioned in the Coldstream Guards on Christmas Day 1867, promoted Captain in March 1871 and appointed Adjutant 1st Battalion, 19th August 1871 to 29th October 1878. He married Katherine Susannah nee Claughton on 17th December 1872 in St George’s, Hanover Square, London. Having applied for special service in South Africa, Ronald was seconded as a staff officer to Colonel Sir Evelyn Wood VC and took part in the Zulu War. On 28th March 1879, he led an assault on a Zulu position on Hlobane Mountain, accompanied by Lieutenants Henry Lysons and Edmund Fowler. Campbell was shot and killed while approaching the entrance to a cave. Lysons and Fowler captured the position and were awarded the VC. Wood stated that if Campbell had survived, he would have been recommended for the VC. Katherine visited the site of her husband’s grave on Hlobane Mountain. She and Ronald had four children, with John the second youngest.

John V Campbell VC DSO

John was educated at Eton in the Reverend Raymond Coxe Radcliffe’s House 1890-1894 and the Royal Military College Sandhurst. He was commissioned on 5th September 1896 and promoted Lieutenant 6th April 1898. He served in Britain until October 1899 and then in the South African War with 2nd Coldstream Guards in No 6 Company. He acted as Adjutant from 30th November 1900 and was appointed officially on 29th Decemberr until 13th July 1903. The Battalion was sent to Potchefstroom, where he was also became the Acting Assistant Provost Marshal from December 1900 and Station Staff Officer from April 1901. John was awarded the DSO for his services on operations west of Pretoria and at Belfast November to December 1900. It was presented to him by King Edward VII on 18th December 1902.

John was promoted to Captain on 27th June 1903, and married Amy Dorothy nee Penn on 18th July 1904 at Wellington Barracks Chapel, London and they settled in Painswick, Gloucestershire. John and Amy had two children – John Ronald Campbell (born 1905) and Diana Marion Campbell (born 1909). John was promoted to Major on 21st June 1913 and went to France on 11th May 1915. He was appointed temporary lieutenant colonel on 29th July to command 3rd Coldstream Guards. Appointed Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on 1st January 1916.

On 15th September 1916 at Ginchy, France, Lieutenant Colonel Campbell took personal command of the third line when the first two waves of his battalion had been decimated by machine-gun and rifle fire. He rallied his men and led them against the enemy machine-guns, capturing the guns and killing the personnel. Later in the day he again rallied the survivors of his battalion and led them through very heavy hostile fire. His personal gallantry and initiative at a very critical moment enabled the division to press on and capture objectives of the highest tactical importance.

The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 14th November 1916. He was appointed Temporary Brigadier General in November 1916 and commanded 137th Brigade until November 1918. He also commanded 3rd (Guards) Brigade, from 11th November 1918 to 28th March 1919 and relinquished his rank of Temporary Brigadier General on 23rd February 1920. For his service in the war, he was also awarded the CMG, the French Croix de Guerre and the French Officer de l’Legion d’Honneur.

John became ADC to King George V on 3rd June 1919, an appointment he held until 10th November 1933. He was promoted to Colonel in June 1920 and commanded 165th (Liverpool) Infantry Brigade until 1923, when he was appointed Colonel Coldstream Guards and Regimental District and Commander 169th (3rd London) Infantry Brigade from 1923 to 1927. He retired with the honorary rank of Brigadier on 31st October 1933.

His wife Amy died in 1927 and John married Margaret Emily Robina Tennyson-Smith on 6th February 1937 in Poole, Dorset. They settled in Stroud, Gloucestershire. John was in charge of the British Equitation Team during the 1936 Olympic Games. He served as an honorary Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve from 1939 to 1940. He commanded 8th Gloucestershire (Dursley) Battalion, Home Guard from February 1941 until his death.

He died suddenly at Woodchester, near Stroud, Gloucestershire on 21st May 1944. He was cremated at Cheltenham Crematorium and his ashes were scattered into the River Findhorn from Banchor Bridge on the Cawdor Estate, near Nairn, Scotland. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the CMG, DSO, Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with six clasps, King’s South Africa Medal 1901-02 with two clasps, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, George V Coronation Medal 1911, George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, French Legion d’Honneur and French Croix de Guerre. His medals are held by HQ Coldstream Guards at the Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks, London.






Thomas Stewart – Images of the Medal Group at the Guards Museum, and Cawdor Church Memorial.

Steve Lee – Eton College VC Board

Terry Hissey –  VC Stone at the MOD Building, Embankment, London.