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John Acy Campbell III, DFC

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Credit for this entry to:
Andrew Behan.

John Acy Campbell III, DFC

Person  Male  Born 3/11/1921  Died 1/8/2012

Categories: Armed Forces, War Memorial WW2

Countries: USA

Flying Officer John Acy Campbell III, DFC, was born on 3 November 1921 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA, the elder child of John Acy Campbell Jnr (1896-1980) and Mary Magdalene Campbell née Schwamb (1891-1950). His sister, Lily Eleanor Campbell (1923-1992) was born on 23 March 1923 in Colón, Colón Province, Panama.

His mother had been a widow, having previously married a John William Harmstead (1890-1917). He had two half siblings: John Samuel Wilson Harmstead (1912-1970) and Mary Elizabeth Harmstead (1914-1983).  

In October 1940 he was training as service pilot at the Polaris Flight Academy, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, in October 1940 when he went to Canada and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He came to England in March 1941 for operational training on Hawker Hurricane aeroplanes and April 1941 was assigned as a Pilot Officer to No.234 Squadron at RAF Church Fenton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.

On 15 June 1941 he was transferred to No.121 (Eagle) Squadron at RAF Kirton in Lindsey, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where he remained until 7 October 1941 when he transferred to No.258 Squadron for a Far East posting as the UK climate aggravated his sinus condition. The squadron was initially based at RAF Martlesham Heath, Martlesham, Suffolk and he eventually arrived in Singapore on 29 January 1942 where he was involved in the Battle of Singapore 7 February 1942 - 15 February 1942.

On 23 February 1942 he was transferred to No.605 Squadron flying Hawker Hurricanes and defending Java. With four victories in the Far East to his credit, on 28 February 1942 he was shot down in combat and initially evaded capture until 20 March 1942 when he fell into the hands of the Japanese. He became a POW in a harsh prison camp in Java for the next 3 and a half years, the only member of the three Eagle Squadrons to suffer this fate. He left the Royal Air Force holding the rank of Flying Officer and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, (United Kingdom, not the U.S. version).

After the war, he married Gladys Christine Horn (1923-2013) in Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA. They had three children and lived in San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA. He died, aged 90 years, on 1 August 2012 and his remains were buried in Section CC12A, Row 2, Site 12 of the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, 1700 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego.

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John Acy Campbell III, DFC

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Eagle Squadrons

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