Kenneth Campbell was born on 21st April 1917 in Saltcoats, His father John was joint town clerk in Saltcoats. Kenneth had 2 brothers and 3 sisters. He was educated at Ardrossan Academy and then at Dreghorn Castle School, Edinburgh. He graduated BA from Clare College, Cambridge, where he joined the university's RAF (Volunteer Reserve) and trained as a pilot. He became a Pilot Officer on April 12th 1939.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for "The most conspicuous bravery" in a low-level torpedo attack on a German battle cruiser at Brest in April 1941. He died at the age of 23 on Sunday 6th April 1941.
The events leading to his death are chronicled in the London Gazette in 1942. Campbell was a member of 22 Squadron whose mission was to attack the German ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Brest harbour. When he reached his objective at dawn, he and his three man crew found themselves alone facing 1,000 guns of shore batteries, ships and the two battle cruisers. Despite the odds Campbell flew in at 50ft and blew a 40ft hole in the Gneisenau's starboard side that flooded the cruiser and put it out of action for 8 months. This act of daring prove to be a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Campbell is buried in Brest Cemetery in France plot 40, row 1 grave number 10. In April 2000 he was honoured by Saltcoats when a memorial plaque and bench was dedicated to his achievements. These are situated opposite St. Mary's church in Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats.
1) Video for Remembrance 11/11/2011
2) WW2today.com Apri16th.1941
Back to the Saltcoats Trail