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CAMPBELL, Ian Armytage (1899-1983)

CAMPBELL, Ian Armytage (1899-1983)


Ian Armytage Campbell was born on the 4 February 1899, the son of former Collegian, Archibald George Campbell (1862-1946), and Jessie Mabel nee Armytage, of Ripple Vale, Birregurra. He was initially educated by a governess before his enrolment at Geelong College from April 1910 to December 1917. At College, he was awarded colours for cricket (1st Cricket XI 1916-17), football (1st Football XVIII 1915-17), rowing (1st Rowing VIII 1916-17) and athletics. He was also a member of the shooting team and was a School Prefect in his last year, 1917.

He enlisted as a Private in the AIF for service in the Great War, but was still in training camp at Seymour when the Armistice was declared.

In June 1942, during World War II, Pegasus noted:
'The name of Captain I A Campbell occurred in a list of officers claimed as prisoners by the invaders.'

E F Aitken in The 2/2nd Australian Pioneers Battalion decribed the men's troubles:
'But the days of comparative freedom were drawing all too rapidly to a close. Batavia was the next objetive, and on 26th March (1942) an advance party comprising Captain I Campbell, Lieutenants Rossiter and Walter and 150 other ranks was sent ahead to prepare a camp. For some reason best known to the Japanese, they were carried by motor transport to Tjibatoe, some eight miles distant, where they entrained. Their train later passed through Lele railway station, only a couple of hundred yards from the market place, on the way to Batavia. That was the last that the Battalion saw of them for seven weeks. The Japanes authorities in Batavia were unco-operative, and instead of putting the 'advance party' to the task which they had been sent, they placed them in the congested Coen Chinese School, along with British and American troops, and they did not rejoin the battalion until 14th May.

(On their arrival at the Bicycle Camp, Batavia), immediately inside the camp entrance was a large party of what appeared to be Dutch troops. They were mostly clad in green Dutch uniforms, and many of the pale lean faces were bearded. It almost looked as if a hospital had emptied out all its patients long before they were ready for discharge. They had only to speak to make it obvious that these were no Dutchmen. They were Australians, survivors of the ill-fated HMAS Perth, which with USS Houston put up a valiant fight against overwhelming odds and was sunk in Sunda Strait on the night of 28th February-1st March. They had come straight to the Bicycle Camp from the twin hells of the Serang picture theatre and gaol, where they had been cramped and confined in unspeakable conditions for the last six weeks after having been handed over to the Japanese by menacing and 'parang'- brandishing Indonesians. Perth's complement was 600, and there were 300 survivors.'


Ian's nephew described his service in the 2nd AIF, during World War II, in The Biographical Dictionary of the
Western District of Victoria:
'Ian re-enlisted (No VX27188) in the 2nd AIF in 1939, and was commissioned as a captain, serving in the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion in Syria and Java, where he was taken prisoner of war, and served on the notorious Burma-Thailand Railway. He assisted Lt Col (later Sir Alfred) Coates in treating prisoners. Operations and amputations had often to be performed without anaesthetics, Campbell, a Presbyterian of strong faith, inspired and led his men by example. Six feet three inches and weighing fourteen stone when he enlisted, he weighed six stone and was temporarily blind at discharge. Throughout that horrific period he never lost his spirit and his feeling for his fellow comrades.'

Ian Armytage died at Terang on 18 April 1983.

His brother, L/Cpl Allan Fairbairn Campbell (1897-1916), was killed in action at Pozieres on 3 August 1916, his name is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial, France.

Another brother, Ronald Keith Campbell (1895-1960)was also educated at Geelong College.


Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck; p148 (citing The Biographical Dictionary of the Western District of Victoria (Edited by Gordon Forth, individual article written by Ian Ronald Douglas Campbell and Elisabeth Maria Campbell); Pegasus; National Archives).''
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