Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Remembering a Veteran: Captain Robert Campbell, East Surrey Regiment

British Army Captain Robert Campbell of the East Surrey Regiment was captured in 1914 a few weeks after the First World War started and sent to Magdeburg prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. Campbell was there two years, until, in December of 1916, he received word from home that his mother was dying. 

On a long shot, Campbell wrote directly to Kaiser Wilhelm II asking for leave to go home to see her one last time. Not only did the Kaiser say yes, he granted Campbell two weeks leave at home, plus two travel days each way, as long as Campbell promised to return. Like an honorable gentleman, he honored his promise with the apparent blessing of the British Army and government.

When Campbell's allotted leave time was up, he crossed back across the front lines once more, and returned to the prisoner-of-war camp, where he began digging an escape tunnel. His attempt at escape failed, and he remained incarcerated until liberated at the end of the war in 1918 and served in the army until 1925.  Campbell rejoined in 1939, taking up the role of chief observer of the Royal Observer Corps on the Isle of Wight for the duration of World War II. He died in July 1966, aged 81.

1 comment:

  1. Does this type gallantry exist among the world military today?