Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell – Lest We Forget

This was originally posted in November 2010.

Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was my Great Grand Uncle. I have written about him before in a previous post. Horace and a few of his brothers immigrated to British Columbia in 1909. Horace and Frank went to Campbell River and worked with the power company while Harold worked in Vancouver.

Horace joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9 November 1914 and he was part of the Active Militia at the time. He was 27 years 275 days old and his occupation was listed as surveyor.

He was part of the C.E.F., 29th Vancouver Battalion, Second Canadian Contingent, 6th Brigade, Canadian Infantry, British Columbia Regiment. This regiment did a lot of fighting in and around the French and Flemish border.

On 23 Jan 1915 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. On the 20th of May 1915 he embarked for England. He started his trench warfare training on the 25th of February 1916 and finished on the 3rd of March 1916. The Trench Warfare School took place “in the field.”

Horace received the rank of Corporal on the 15th of March 1916 and on May 27th was granted eight days leave. During his leave he went back to visit his family in Glasgow and help his niece, Norah, celebrate her eighth birthday. He left on June 4th to return to the front.

On the 8th of June 1916 Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was killed in action. His military file does not say where he was killed. A little research has shown that he was probably killed at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in Belgium. This battle was fought from June 2-13, 1916.

Horace was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His military file consists of five pages.

Horace was the subject of many photographs during his leave. There is one photo of Horace and his brother Edwin.

Janet Waddell Ross Campbell was sent a photograph of Horace’s final resting place in Belgium at the Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

On Armistice Day everyone went to church. There is a photograph of a floral cross. On the back of this photograph is written “Armistice Day 11th Nov Camphill Church (Glasgow) Memorial – Horace’s wooden cross, forms the foundation of the floral one” You can see that the table the cross is standing on is draped with the Union Jack.

The Campbell’s were quite prolific poets. At Christmas in 1915 while on the battlefield in Belgium Horace wrote a letter home which, as was his practice, included a poem. This poem was read during the Armistice Day service and was printed on Horace’s memorial card.

Oh, lead us not home with the flourish of trumpets
With flags and plumes waving and cheers in the air;
Oh, call us not heroes nor crown us with laurels,
But remember the cost — see the tears everywhere.

Give a thought to the men that lie dead over yonder,
With “Unknown” on a rude cross of wood where they lie.
See that woman in black — whose loved ones sleep with them
As sadly she watches their comrades go by.

But think kindly of others and quietly welcome
Your loved ones, your brothers, your husbands, your sons;
And think of the morrow of tears, and the sorrow
Of thousands who have lost their only dear ones.

Six months after he wrote the poem Horace would be gone.

Lest We Forget

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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