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Croydon's Royal Navy Victoria Cross hero honoured

Croydon's Royal Navy Victoria Cross hero honoured
20 February 2017
Croydon in South London has honoured its only recipient of the Victoria Cross during World War I with a unique paving stone memorial.

Commissioned to mark the achievements of Royal Navy Commander Gordon Campbell VC DSO, the special commemorative stone honours the bravery that earned him the country’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.  

Unveiled by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor on 17th February, the date marks exactly 100 years to the day since the action that earned Commander Gordon Campbell his Victoria Cross.

At the time, he was the Commanding Officer of HMS Farnborough, a ‘Q-Ship’ that saw service as a decoy vessel for German U-boats. They were in fact heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave the Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them.

Whilst on patrol in the North Atlantic HMS Farnborough spotted an enemy torpedo trail. Altering course, Campbell allowed the torpedo to hit his ship, causing severe damage.

I’m proud to be a part of a ceremony that will mark the part played by Commander Gordon Campbell and his crew in a remarkably hostile environment and I hope people will come along to the cenotaph to pay their respects and say a quiet ‘thank-you’ to a brave man

The Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor

However, when the U-boat that had fired the torpedo surfaced, and Farnborough lying very low in the water, Campbell gave the order to fire, resulting in the sinking of U 83. In total HMS Farnborough fired 45 shells into the stationary U-Boat.  

At a small ceremony at Croydon’s Cenotaph, the Mayor of Croydon read out Commander Gordon Campbell’s Victoria Cross citation and together with several local dignities and Captain Robert Anstey from the Royal Navy, paid their respects.

A Royal Marines Bugler played the Sunset after the Chaplain read out the Naval Prayer.

Councillor Trakas-Lawlor said: “It’s thanks to the bravery and selflessness of people such as Commander Campbell that we in Britain enjoy the freedoms available to us today – freedoms that we’re sometimes guilty of taking for granted.

“I’m proud to be a part of a ceremony that will mark the part played by Commander Gordon Campbell and his crew in a remarkably hostile environment and I hope people will come along to the cenotaph to pay their respects and say a quiet ‘thank-you’ to a brave man.”

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