Case study

WW1 Canadian VC recipient Frederick William Campbell

The story of Canadian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Frederick William Campbell.

Frederick William Campbell
Credit: National Defence Canada

70 men from Canada received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. The plaque is now displayed at the British High Commission Ottawa. This archive tells their stories.

Name: Frederick William Campbell

DOB: 15 June 1869

Place of Birth: Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada

Date of Action: 15 June 1915

Place of Action: near Givenchy, France

Rank: Captain

Regiment: 1st Battalion Infantry, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Frederick William Campbell was born in Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada, on 15 June 1869. He was married, and had already served in the Boer War, when he was commissioned as an officer in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the outbreak of the First World War.

Campbell was awarded his Victoria Cross posthumously for most conspicuous bravery on 15 June 1915 near Givenchy, France whilst serving with the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It was his birthday, and he was leading the attack on a German trench thought to be unassailable. As his citation explains:

Lieutenant 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 Captain Campbell withdrew, he was mortally wounded and died four days later in hospital in Boulogne. He is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. A plaque at the Capt. Fred Campbell Victoria Cross Branch of The Royal Canadian Legion in Mount Forest commemorates his bravery.

Published 20 June 2016