Name: John Santiago Campbell
DoB: July 15 1891
Regt: Captain Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attached Royal Flying Corps
DoD: September 28 1917
Academic Career: CGS 1904-7. Boarder
John Santiago was the eldest son of Archibald Jack Campbell and his wife Catherine Crawford. He was born in Spain where his father was working in a shipyard near Bilbao. Both his parents came from the Glasgow area. His maternal grandfather was a shipyard manager and his paternal grandfather is variously described as a foreman blacksmith and shipsmith. Archibald was born in Govan and had worked in J & G Thomson’s drawing office in the Clydebank Shipyard before going to work in Spain. When he married Catherine in 1889 he gave Spain as his home address. He was very successful in Spain and was awarded the Cruz de Merito, Naval.
The young family moved to Barrow-in-Furness as Archibald got a job at Vickers Naval Construction Works. The Vickers company was at the forefront of airship design and construction. At least five more children were born 1893-1906. In about 1912 the family moved back to the Glasgow area as Archilbald became general manager of William Beardmore & Company’s Dalmuir Naval Construction Works, which was also involved with airships.
Archibald became famous as the designer of the R34 which was the first airship to cross the Atlantic. It was piloted by Major George Scott CBE, who had married John’s sister Jessie. She was interviewed just prior to the crossing and when she asked if she was worried she replied
‘My father built her, my husband commands her. Why should I worry?’
Unfortunately George Scott was the pilot of the R101 when it crashed in 1930 at Beauvais, France. He died with the majority of the crew and passengers.
John was an active member of the debating society speaking against the motion “ That the Press has more power than the pulpit”
And in the debate “That War is Justifiable”, the Carliol magazine reports that:
“He avowed that war was but a carnal instinct, and, as such, better fitted for beasts than men”
In his final year he presented a book to the library “True to His Colours” by Rev.Theodore P. Wilson.
John enlisted on October 29 1914 as a second lieutenant in the 9th battalion of Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
John must have volunteered for the newly created Royal Flying Corps. In November 1916 he was wounded in a flying accident whilst still in the UK. In May 1917 he graduated as a flying officer, was posted to 82 squadron and promoted to lieutenant. He was then sent to learn how to fly Bristol F2B two seat fighters. In August 1917 he was promoted to captain and on September 1 was posted to 20 squadron in France.
On September 28, John’s plane was one of eight Bristols which were sent up to photograph German troops and positions. They were attacked by 25 albatros aircraft and John’s plane was last seen in combat near Menin. John and his observer George Tester were declared missing in action the next day. They had been shot down and buried by the Germans. It was some months before their deaths were officially confirmed. In 1924 the CWGC exhumed their bodies and reburied them at Pont du Hem, France.
Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attached Royal Flying Corps
In the weeks following John’s disappearance his father used his Spanish contacts in Madrid to inquire with the German authorities as to his son’s fate.