Westminster City Council has unveiled a special memorial outside the Ministry of Defence in memory of the “Tally-Ho” Victoria Cross recipient Brigadier General John Vaughan Campbell, 100 years to the day after he won the award for conspicuous bravery.
In a ceremony at Victoria Embankment Gardens, attended by senior British Army officers, soldiers from his regiment and his descendants, the officer – who was born in Westminster - was remembered for his gallantry and service during the Great War with a special paving stone.
As an acting Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards in 1916, Campbell fought in the Battle of the Somme. On 15 September 1916 he took personal command of the 3rd line of guardsmen at Ginchy, France after the first 2 waves of his battalion were shot down by machine gun and rifle fire.
He rallied his men by blowing a hunting horn and shouting the traditional hunting cry of “Tally-Ho”, by which he also earned his nickname.
His VC citation states that he then led the charge against enemy machine gun positions, capturing the guns and killing the personnel. Later in the day after consultation with other unit commanders he again rallied the survivors of this battalion and at a critical moment led them through a very hostile fire barrage against the objective. He was one of the first to enter the enemy trench.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster, Cllr Steve Summers unveiled the commemorative stone alongside a member of the Campbell family. The stone was then blessed by the current chaplain to the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, Reverend J. W. Caldwell. The hunting horn that Campbell blew in battle was on display and the Band of the Coldstream Guards played the National Anthem.
The Lord Mayor Cllr Steve Summers said: “The courage and bravery that John Vaughan Campbell inspired in his soldiers a century ago continues to be felt today. Paving stones like this commemorate extraordinary acts and are a visual reminder of the debt we owe to our Armed Forces in living our daily lives in peace, and with freedom and opportunity. Taking time out of our busy daily lives to commemorate our heroes is an opportunity not only to honour our Armed Forces, but to champion and reflect upon the values on which these awards stand – courage, respect, integrity and pride.”
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster Armed Forces Champion said: “These ceremonies form an important part of our Community Covenant work in supporting and championing our uniformed personnel alongside ensuring that they are able to access our services in the borough as and when required. Commemorations of our heroes such as John Vaughan Campbell enable us to come together as a city in remembrance and gratitude for all that our Armed Forces have done and continue to do to keep us safe. It gives us an opportunity to thank men and women in uniform for their service, and offer our support to their families and the wider military community.”
The Victoria Cross paving stone for John Vaughan Campbell is the 4th of 12 to be unveiled in Westminster.
In total, 628 paving stones will be laid across the country in memory of all those awarded a Victoria Cross throughout the Great War.