CAMPBELL, COLIN

1918-1997 from Scotland


colonial secretary, was the fourth child of Archibald Campbell (1876-1963) of Kilberry and Bute in Argyll and Violet née Beadon (1879-1949). Archibald Campbell is widely regarded as one of the giants of 20th century Scottish piping. He entered the Indian Civil Service in 1900 and served in India until 1927, latterly as a judge of the High Court in Lahore. Like their father before them, Colin Campbell, and his two brothers, attended Harrow School and, from 1937-39, Pembroke College Cambridge. In 1941 Colin Campbell joined the colonial service and was initially posted to Kenya, where he served at a lieutenant in the Black Watch in the Northern Frontier district. From 1942-1950, he was a district officer based in Isiolo and then from 1950-1951 political officer on the Kenya/Ethiopia Boundary commission. In 1951, while working in Nairobi, Colin Campbell married Jaqueline Mary Harvie (1922-2004).

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372 Sailing south: on board HMS Snipe...

In 1952 Campbell was appointed colonial secretary of the Falkland Islands. He arrived in the Falklands, accompanied by his wife, from Montevideo, aboard the Fitzroy on 16 February 1952. One local resident recalled an incident shortly after the Campbell’s moved into their new home, Sulivan House: 

I remember hearing the story about him just after he arrived in the Falklands that he shot some Kelp Geese and Logger ducks in front of Sulivan House. I think he was strongly advised it wasn`t quite the thing to do. I never learned if he attempted to cook them for dinner or not.

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373 With the Camerons: left to right:...

The Campbell’s first two sons, John (born 1952) and Neil (born 1954) were born in Stanley. Sir Cosmo HASKARD was one of the godfathers of John Campbell, and Anne Cameron was a godmother to Neil Campbell. Both children were baptised in the Cathedral. During their time in the Falkland Island the Campbells became close friends of Norman and Anne CAMERON, and they regularly stayed at Port San Carlos farm.

Campbell served as colonial secretary under two governors – Sir Miles CLIFFORD and Sir Raynor ARTHUR. Both governors were fortunate to have such a hardworking and competent deputy and assistant. Campbell was closely involved with a number of significant events in the life of the Falkland Islands.  Shortly after he began working in the Islands, Campbell supervised the arrangements for the arrival of the Aquila flying boat, in April 1952. This was the first attempt to provide a regular air service between the Falkland Islands, the South American mainland and the UK.

Campbell conducted the official opening ceremony (in the absence of Governor Clifford, who was on leave in the UK) of the ill-fated Ajax Bay freezer plant on 6 April 1953. In his speech Campbell hinted strongly at the many problems with the project, and the challenges that lay ahead:

After many delays and vicissitudes, today marks the opening of the Falklands Freezer and with this the possibilities of a great advance in the fortunes of the Colony. I lay emphasis on the word ‘possibilities’ because the issue now rests with the farmers themselves; success or failure depends upon the degree of support which they give to this venture … I wish this project every success and hope that it may bring increased prosperity to the farmers.

Campbell was right to be concerned. Most of the farm owners and farm managers declined to be present at the opening ceremony – they cited the reason that they were too busy to attend because ‘they were doing sheep work.’ It was not a happy omen.

Campbell also played a key role in countering Argentine expansion in the Falkland Islands Dependencies. Between December 1952 and January 1953 an Argentine party landed at the British base at Port Foster, on Deception Island, erected two buildings and raised the Argentine flag. Campbell, as the acting governor, visited Deception Island on 19 January 1953 to deliver a protest note. On his return to Stanley, Campbell sent a paper on the situation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London, and this was discussed at a meeting of the British Cabinet on 31 January 1953. The decision was made to eject the Argentines and to dismantle their illegal base.

The commander-in-chief, America and West Indies station, Vice Admiral Sir William ANDREWES was instructed to assist the civil authorities in Stanley to remove the Argentine personnel and their base on Deception Island. With the arrival of the Admiral’s flagship, HMS Superb, in Stanley, on 11 February 1953, plans were immediately drawn up to carry out the instructions of the British government. Colin Campbell was involved with every aspect of the planning and implementation of the expedition to remove the illegal base. On 15 February 1953 Campbell arrived at Deception Island with a party of Royal Marines, and two civilian policemen, on board the Falklands guard ship, HMS Snipe. Two Argentine personnel were arrested, the base buildings were dismantled, and the prisoners were taken to South Georgia and deported.

When HMS Superb finally left the Falkland Islands on 25 March 1953, for England to take part in the Coronation Review, Admiral Andrewes wrote a personal letter of thanks to Campbell:

May I say how much pleasure it has given me to meet Mrs Campbell and yourself, and of course John. I am most grateful for all that you yourselves have done, and I have much enjoyed our work together.

In 1953 he was awarded the Queen’s Medal to commemorate Her Majesty’s Coronation, and in January 1955 Campbell was appointed an OBE.

The Campbell family left the Falklands in the Fitzroy on 16 April 1955 bound for Montevideo and the UK arriving in Southampton 13 May 1955. It is noteworthy that among the other passengers on the homeward trip to the UK were Norman Keith CAMERON (from Port San Carlos Farm) and his wife and three children – including his daughter, the five-year-old Jane. The Campbells left for service in Kenya five months later. The Campbell’s third son, Angus, was born in Kenya in 1956.

Campbell was appointed district commissioner at Machakos in Kenya, where he was responsible for hosting a royal visit by Princess Margaret. This visit was tense and could easily have wrecked Campbell’s career. The Campbells found it difficult to forgive their royal guest’s behaviour.

In 1957 he was appointed civil secretary, Kenya Police and in 1961 deputy secretary, Ministry of Defence. He was made permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence in 1963, a post he held until Kenya's Independence and his subsequent return to the UK in 1964.

The Falkland Islands Monthly Review for March 1961 (no 27). reported:

News has also been received of Mr. Colin Campbell, former Colonial Secretary, who is now in the Ministry of Defence Nairobi. Mr. Campbell mentioned how much he had enjoyed his time in the Falklands. He captained the Cambridge team in an Oxford v Cambridge golf match in Nairobi. Many readers will remember Mr. Campbell’s sturdy football performances when he played left back for Redsox in our local league.

Upon returning to the UK, Colin Campbell went into teaching and moved to Stockbridge, Hampshire, to work at Marsh Court Preparatory School, where he taught English, Latin, maths, and games.

In 1977 he was appointed as a senior administrative officer to the Government of the Solomon Islands, a post he held for 2 years before returning to retire back in England. However, in 1979 he returned to Africa for a final time as an election supervisor in the then Rhodesia {Zimbabwe}. His eventual full retirement was back at Stockbridge, where he enjoyed golf, bridge, and backgammon. Campbell was an enthusiastic follower of horse racing.

Colin Campbell died in January, 1997 and was buried in the family plot in Kilberry, Argyll and Bute. In 2004 Jacqueline Campbell’s ashes were scattered at sea off Bosham, near Chichester.

Authors

Stephen Palmer

Revisions

2018 - Original version