Another VC at Sidi Rezegh

Campbell at his investiture with the Victoria Cross by the Commander in Chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Campbell was awarded the VC for his action at Sidi Rezergh, 21 - 22 November 1941.

Bitter fighting continued at Sidi Rezegh, a battle that might be better remembered had its significance not been eclipsed by Rommel’s subsequent successes.

Later in the war the Commander of the New Zealand Division, Lieutenant-General Freyberg was to consider how difficult the battle had been when he was planning other attacks: ‘Whenever I discussed such [a dangerous] operation with one of my senior commanders we were always comforted by the reflection that the operation was not so hazardous as Sidi Rezegh during the approach to relieve Tobruk.’

This was another gallant action that won a Victoria Cross:

On the 21st November Brigadier Campbell was commanding the troops, including one regiment of tanks, in the area of Sidi Rezegh ridge and the aerodrome. His small force holding this important ground was repeatedly attacked by large numbers of tanks and infantry.

Wherever the situation was most difficult and the fighting hardest he was to be seen with his forward troops, either on his feet or in his open car. In this car he carried out several reconnaissances for counter-attacks by his tanks, whose senior officers had all become casualties early in the day.

Standing in his car with a blue flag, this officer personally formed up tanks under close and intense fire from all natures of enemy weapons.
On the following day the enemy attacks were intensified and again Brigadier Campbell was always in the forefront of the heaviest fighting, encouraging his troops, staging counter-attacks with his remaining tanks and personally controlling the fire of his guns. On two occasions he himself manned a gun to replace casualties.

During the final enemy attack on the 22nd November he was wounded, but continued most actively in the foremost positions, controlling the fire of batteries which inflicted heavy losses on enemy tanks at point blank range, and finally acted as loader to one of the guns himself.

Throughout these two days his magnificent example and his utter disregard of personal danger were an inspiration to his men and to all who saw him. His brilliant leadership was the direct cause of the very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy.

In spite of his wound he refused to be evacuated and remained with his command, where his outstanding bravery and consistent determination had a marked effect in maintaining the splendid fighting spirit of those under him.

London Gazette, 30 January 1942

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica Hammond September 16, 2012 at 2:22 am

My grandfather, James Francis Jewell was a Trooper with the 8th tank regiment.
He perished in the fighting on the 21/22nd of November 1941.

David Vernon November 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Jock Campbell was killed some three months later when the jeep in which he was travelling overturned. He is buried in Cairo. See: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2274154

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