Campbell, Duncan

Last updated on 22-Jun-19

Duncan Campbell



127 L/Cpl. Duncan Campbell (at right) was born in 1893 in Beauly, Inverness-shire, Scotland to Simon Campbell of Fornest, Streetherrick, Inverness-shire.  He spent two years with the Territorials Cameron Highlanders.  He enlisted on 8th May 1915 at Melbourne with A Company of the 24th Battalion.  At the time of enlistment he was a farm servant at Glen Isla, Cowes.  A regular payment of money from his army pay was made to D. McKenzie of Glen Isla, Cowes.

“The 24th Battalion was raised in a hurry. The original intent was to raise the 4th Battalion of the 6th Brigade from the ‘outer states’, but a surplus of recruits at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria led to a decision being made to raise it there.  The battalion was formed during the first week of May 1915, and sailed from Melbourne at the end of that week.

Training shortfalls were made up in Egypt in July and August, and on 4th September 1915 the Battalion went ashore at Gallipoli.  It spent the next 16 weeks sharing duty in the Lone Pine trenches with the 23rd Battalion.  The fighting at Lone Pine was so dangerous and exhausting that battalions rotated every day.”


Australian War Memorial website.


Duncan was sent to hospital suffering from shock on 1st December and didn’t rejoin the unit until 14th February 1916.  The Battalion was reunited in Egypt in early 1916 and he rejoined it in the Canal Zone.  They proceeded to France in March.


“It took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July and August 1916. The Battalion got little rest during the bleak winter of 1916-17 alternating between the front and labouring tasks.  When patrolling no-man’s land the men of the 24th adopted a unique form of snow camouflage - large white nighties bought in Amiens.”


In May 1917 the battalion participated in the successful, but costly, second battle of Bullecourt. It was involved for only a single day 3rd May but suffered almost 80 per cent casualties. The AIF’s focus for the rest of the year was the Ypres sector in Belgium, and the 24th’s major engagement there was the seizure of Broodseinde Ridge.”


Australian War Memorial website.


Duncan was wounded in action on 27th July while in the Cemetery Trench at Pozieres and was evacuated to the 1st Canadian Hospital.  He returned to duty on 28th August 1917.

“Like many AIF battalions, the 24th was very weak at the beginning of 1918, but still played its part in turning back the German offensive in April.  When the Allies took to the offensive, the 24th fulfilled supporting roles during the battles of Hamel and Amiens.  At Mont St Quentin, however, it played a major role by recapturing the main German strong point atop the summit on 1st September.A diorama at the Australian War Memorial depicts this attack.


The battalion’s last battles of the war were at Beaurevoir on 3rd October and Montbrehain on 5th October.  It left the front line for the last time on 6th October 1918 and disbanded in May 1919.”


Australian War Memorial website.


Duncan returned to Australia on the Kashmir on 30th April 1919. He was at Cowes in 1919 and by January 1922 he was in Cambridge, New Zealand.  Electoral rolls for 1924 to 1968 have Duncan farming at “The Croft”, Main Ridge, Red Hill, Victoria and he retired to Dromana after this. He married Amelia Elsie Brown in 1934.  They had no children.  Duncan died at Shoreham on 19th September 1986 at the age of 94 and was buried at the Dromana Cemetery.  He was the last surviving of the Phillip Island servicemen.


Duncan is commemorated on the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour and the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour.