The superb Second World War Normandy 4th August 1944 consolidation of Maisoncelle ‘immediate’ Military Medal awarded to Bombardier S.J. Campbell, Royal Artillery, who with ‘G’ Troop, ‘Z’ Battery, 21st Anti Tank Regiment, whilst serving as 2-in-command and layer on a 17 pounder Anti-Tank gun known as ‘G4’ in support of men of the 32nd Guards Brigade, was credited together with his Sergeant, with the remarkable destruction of three tanks in two minutes at point blank range before going on to engage the enemy infantry with small arms fire and disable a fourth tank later on that night.
Military Medal, Geo VI, 1st type bust; (866797 BMBR. J. CAMPBELL. R.A.), together with recipient’s named card box of issue and outer forwarding packet, and tunic medal ribbon bar representative of his awards issued to him circa 1945-45, missing the War Medal which was still to be issued.
Stanley John Campbell, known as ‘Jock’, came from Edinburgh, Scotland, and saw service during the Second World War as a Bombardier (No.866797) with the Royal Artillery, and took part in the Normandy campaign serving with ‘G’ Troop, ‘Z’ Battery, 21st Anti Tank Regiment. It was for his gallantry in action on the evening of 4th August 1944 when operating a 17 pounder anti-tank gun known as ‘G4’ in support of an attack made by tanks of the 32nd Guards Brigade and men of the Scots Guards Company attached to the 3rd Irish Guards in the consolidation of Maisoncelle, that Campbell would gain the Military Medal.
The recommendation reads as follows: ‘On the evening of 4th August 1944 Bombardier Campbell, who was 2-in-command and layer on a 17 pounder Anti-Tank gun, gave his No.1 all possible help in getting his gun forward under fire to consolidate the position about Maisoncelle 7139, captured by the Scots Guards Company attached 3rd Irish Guards. At 0100 hours 5th August, the position was attacked by enemy infantry with tanks. Acting as loader to Lance Sergeant Harris, Bombardier Campbell gave him every possible assistance. As the leading enemy tank approached their position, Lance Sergeant Harris played on and with his first shot scored a direct hit. This shot, however, revealed their position and the two following tanks immediately opened fire on them at close range. Lance Sergeant Harris laid on each of these in turn, firing one round at each tank, scoring direct hits which caused both tanks to burst into flames. Bombardier Campbell then continued to engage the enemy with small arms fire. A few hours later these two NCO’s scored a hit on one of six other enemy tanks which approached their position, and caused the others to disperse. Throughout the night, Bombardier Campbell showed the greatest bravery and enterprise though under fire from enemy tanks at 100 yards range. The very able assistance he gave Lance Sergeant Harris and the splendid team work of these two NCOs on the gun, played a very large part in preventing the Scots Guards’ company from being overrun.’ Campbell’s ‘immediate’ award of the Military Medal was published in the London Gazette on 21st December 1944.
A newspaper article of the time described the action in further details almost certainly supplied by an interview with Campbell under the sub title ‘Knocked Out Three Tanks in Two Minutes’. It reads: ‘In a Normandy meadow that are painting four swastikas on a 17-pounder anti-tank gun, a gun that made a name for herself overnight… The gun, known as G4, was supporting an attack. A Nazi sniper, who managed to crawl up to within three yards of G4 and wounded a Guardsman, was killed at point-blank range by the wounded Guardsman’s mate a moment later. Then came the rumble of tanks to the right. It happened that when the first tank appeared only the Sergeant (Harris) and Bombardier (Campbell) were on the gun, for two of the crew were firing the machine-gun at a score of enemy infantry who had shown themselves, and the remaining two had gone to the assistance of the wounded Guards sergeant. The first German tank rumbled into G4’s arc of fire from the right, only 40 yards away. Sergeant Harris leapt into the layer’s seat. Bombardier Campbell seized one of the heavy armour-piercing shells, ready to reload as soon as the Sergeant fired. Then - disappointment. The Sergeant fired, but though he saw the “splash” of tracer that indicates a hit, the tank plunged on without a falter. Immediately a second tank appeared. Bombardier “Jock” reloaded and Sergeant Ted fired. This time it was a bull’s-eye. As tank No.2 burst into flames. And hardly had, a murmur of cheering echoed from the trenches where the Guardsmen waited in the moonlight. No sooner had the Bombardier loaded again than tank No.3 appeared. G4 fired, and, in a second it, too, went up in flames. And hardly had the second muffled cheer gone up from our infantry then Tank No.1, which had rumbled on for 200 yards apparently undamaged, suddenly “brewed up” as well. Inside a couple of minutes G4 had made a name for herself, and her three victims were blazing luridly in the moonlight. As the night went on it was clear that G4 had made things hot for other tanks as well. In a large sunken field to the right, from which the three tanks had been escaping when G4 killed them, and observer up a tree could see seven or eight other tanks whose retreat was now cut off. For hours, a Panther tank fired high-explosive shells into the high bank in an effort to blast a way of escape. Not until daylight were they able to leave the field and, even then one of them showed itself for a split second inside G4’s arc of fire. Bombardier Campbell was in the layer’s seat and he had time to fire a single round. It was a hit, but the tank did not “brew up”. It managed to drag itself a few yards father on, and came to a standstill in some bushes, from which its gun fired on our tanks and carriers until a guards sergeant with a Piat finished it off. That was the end of G4’s big night. Sergeant Harris and Bombardier Campbell had fired four rounds of ammunition. Their score with those four rounds was three enemy tanks killed, one fatally wounded. Several enemy tank men had been killed, but none of G4’s crew had suffered a scratch. The anti-tank regiment in question has made an impressive reputation for itself in the fighting on three sectors of the British front, but Sergeant Harris and Bombardier Campbell have no rivals to date.’