Former Burnley MP and war hero honoured

Gordon Campbell was honoured earlier this month in Croydon.
Gordon Campbell was honoured earlier this month in Croydon.

A former Member of Parliament for Burnley and hero from the first World War has been recognised with a commemorative paving stone to honour him in his home town of Croydon in South London.

Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his maritime heroics in 1917, was MP for Burnley from 1931 to 1935, representing the National Liberal Party, which later merged with the Conservative party.

The former Burnley MP's commemorative paving stone.

The former Burnley MP's commemorative paving stone.

Best known for his actions in command of the HMS Farnborough, a ‘Q’ mystery ship - a disguised, specially equipped, armed merchant ship designed to present easy targets to German U-boat submarines - Campbell was honoured in a ceremony on Friday, February 10th.

Communities Minister Lord Bourne said: “The stone laid in honour of Gordon Campbell VC is a fitting tribute to his extraordinary courage. We owe a huge debt to brave heroes like Gordon Campbell. They are just as inspirational now as they were a century ago.

“I hope this will encourage people in Burnley to find out more about this local VC hero and the First World War," he said of the man honoured as part of the government's First World War Centenary campaign.

Almost 100 years ago to the day, Commander Campbell and the HMS Farnborough were in the North Sea when he deliberately sailed into the path of a missile from a German U-Boat, deceiving the enemy into approaching the semi-destroyed vessel, at which point he ordered hidden gun crews to attack.

Having sunk the German U-Boat, Campbell became something of a legend, but due to the secrecy of the 'Q' ship programme, his Victoria Cross commendation in the press was infamously vague, leading the public to brand him 'The Mystery VC', and it was rumoured German agents had put a price on his head.

Going on to command two further 'Q' ships, Campbell was also awarded the Croix de Guerre and made a chevalier of the Legion d'honneur by France, before writing a worldwide bestseller on his naval experiences in 1928 titled My Mystery Ships.