Brigadier General Campbell, nicknamed “Tally-Ho”, was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery at the Battle of Flers–Courcelette on 15 September 1916, part of the Somme offensive (1 July to 18 November 1916). One hundred years later he has been honoured with a special memorial outside the Ministry of Defence Main Building in Westminster.
Brigadier General Campbell’s actions, bravery and initiative were remembered with a special Victoria Cross commemorative paving stone being laid in Victoria Embankment Gardens, at the heart of the city in which he was born.
The ceremony coincided with the centenary of the first time the tank was used in battle on 15 September 1916, during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
Brig Gen Campbell was commanding the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards at the battle. In deafening gunfire and smoke so thick the troops couldn’t see a hand in front of them, he blew the traditional British hunting cry “Tally-Ho” on his hunting horn to rally his men. The cry was sufficient to allow his troops to gather together and drive forward, before successfully capturing the German guns and defeating the enemy.
Later in the day, he again rallied the survivors of his battalion, leading them once more through heavy hostile fire and became one of the first to enter the enemy trench.
The actual hunting horn from the battle was played at today’s service by the Band of the Coldstream Guards. The band played ‘Homage to Colonel Campbell’, a piece specially written for the horn by the band’s Director of Music Major Simon Haw.
Campbell survived the war and was eventually promoted to Brigadier General. His bravery at the battle attracted fame, and poetry was written of that day in Flers about him.
Today, his descendants watched as the paving stone was formally unveiled by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Carney, and the Lord Mayor of Westminster Steve Summers. Also at the service were representatives from the Army, including Major General Commanding the Household Division, Benjamin Bathurst, and Lieutenant Colonel Sir James Bucknall, who read the Victoria Cross Citation.
After the stone was blessed by Reverend J W Caldwell, Chaplain to the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, words of remembrance were read and a musician from the Coldstream Guards sounded the Last Post.
The Regimental Adjutant, Coldstream Guards, Colonel (Retired) Simon Vandeleur, said:
Commemorating the valour of men such as Campbell, even though it was a long time ago, reminds today’s generation and future generations of British citizens and soldiers, the extraordinary sacrifices that have been made so that we can live a free and civilized life under the rule of law.
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria, and was the first British gallantry medal that could be awarded to any Serviceman irrespective of rank. It remains the highest and most prestigious recognition of exceptional valour in the face of the enemy.