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CAMPBELL, Percy Stewart Carrington (1895-1960)

CAMPBELL, Percy Stewart Carrington (1895-1960).

An accomplished all-round athlete while he was at College, Percy Campbell known as 'Peter' had been born at Prahran on 1 June 1895, the son of Thomas Carrington Campbell (1856-?) and his wife, Margaret Josephine nee Douglas (1860-1929). His father died relatively early and he was enrolled at College by Sir William Zeal (1830-1912), engineer, businessman and politician of William St, Melbourne, who presumably paid the fees of 'Peter' and his brother, Reginald Neil Campbell (1899-1966), though it is not known why. Sir William Zeal was known as a 'friend' of the College and an annual prize was presented by him.

'Peter' Campbell (What Happened to Jones, 1913)

'Peter' Campbell (What Happened to Jones, 1913)

'Peter' was enrolled as Percy Stuart (sic) Carrington Campbell and educated as a boarder at Geelong College from 1905 until 1913 finishing in Form VB. He was an outstanding sportsman, being in the 1st Football XVIII for three years from 1911 to 1913, the 1st Cricket XI for four years from 1910 to 1913, and the Athletics team in 1913. In his final cricket season at College in 1913 he batted in 8 innings for a total of 143 runs and a high score of 44 - second in that year’s averages. In the same article, Pegasus commented that ‘Campbell appears to have spoiled his length by altering his action, although in the last match he showed a trace of his old form’ . As a member of the College Cadet Corps he was also a member of the 1913 Shooting Team which came forth in that year’s inter-schools competition, the Cumming Cup. Also a tennis player of ability he, together with N Longden won the doubles handicap tennis competition at the College with Campbell gaining the School Prize as the Senior Tennis Champion of 1913. In the annual College Sports of October, 1913 ‘Peter’ won the long jump with a leap of 19ft 11/2 inches and came second in the Maiden Open 100yd race. He was also notable for playing the part of Richard Heatherley in the College Dramatic Club presentation of the comedy, 'What Happened to Jones'. Pegasus noted that he 'performed a very difficult part excellently' .

His academic awards to 1908 included:

1905, 2nd, Arithmetic, Junior College Preparatory Form.
1905, 2nd, Writing, Junior College Preparatory Form.
1906 1 Writing Junior College 3rd Form
1907 1 Arithmetic Junior College 3rd Form
1907 1 Writing Junior College 3rd Form
1907 1 Gymnastics 1st Class
1908 1 Writing Lower 4th Form
1908 1 Gymnastics 3rd Class

During World War I, about a year after leaving school, he enlisted on 5 February 1915, embarked for Egypt with 21 Battalion on HMAT A38 Ulysses on 8 May 1915, then proceeded to Gallipoli with HQ Company as a stretcher-bearer. He was there until the Evacuation after which he embarked for France with his battalion where he transferred to 24 Battalion, later suffering ‘shell shock’ on 6 August 1916, at Pozieres Heights. He served through the remainder of the campaign on the Western Front, taking leave to England in January 1918.

While in London he was charged with failure to salute an officer of His Majesty's Forces, resulting in the forfeiture of three days' pay. About incidents of this type, James Button wrote: ‘It was in France that tension and even bitterness between Australian soldiers and the British generals who led them were greatest. The common Australian refusal to salute infuriated the British command, which saw it as evidence of indiscipline. The Australians, for their part, blamed the war-of-attrition strategy of the British, and especially the commander-in-chief, Douglas Haig, for their high casualty rates. Even their official war correspondent, C E W Bean, wrote that 'the prevailing tactics — repeated shallow advances on narrow fronts — were dreaded and detested. It is not surprising if the effect on some intelligent men was a bitter conviction they were being uselessly sacrificed' .

‘Peter’ Campbell returned to Australia, embarking on 28 March 1919 on HMT Port Macquarie. He later, in the 1920s, played with the Brighton Cricket Club which notably included several other notable Collegian cricketers such as G Milne and Jack Iverson who played for the Club during the 1930s. He married Alva Esther Meade (1898-1983) in about 1928. He died on 26 September 1960.

James Affleck, Geelong Collegians at the Great War p148 (citing National Archives; Pegasus December 1913 p9; Pegasus December, 1913 p65; James Button, The Age (Melb) 22 April 2006; Australian Dictionary of Biography.); Pegasus May 1914 p5
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