Local war hero defied odds to live
ROSE City resident Bob Campbell along with his brothers and sisters will stand proud this Sunday to honour their hero and uncle William Campbell.
His immediate descendants Bob, Bill, Rod and Don Campbell and Kathy McCarthy all still reside in Warwick except for Ken Campbell who moved to Sydney.
Their father Malcolm was brother to William who was born on March 9, 1915, the second son of Robert and Ada Campbell where he attended state schools in Warwick until he was 13-years-old and later become a motor mechanic.
He was an honorary bearer of the Ambulance Brigade and operated and maintained First Aid Posts from the Warwick Flour Mill and his parents’ home.
He served with the RAAF in World War Two during which time he made 36 flights over Germany where he became a member of the famous Caterpillar Club as his life was saved by a parachute.
William trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme in Australia and Canada as a bomb-aimer where he then proceeded to England and after serving in the Operation Training Unit was posted to an RAF squadron and commenced operations in Lancasters.
After carrying out the regulatory tour of 30 operations to all parts of Germany he then volunteered for a further six operations. It was on his 36 operation their Lancaster, Q for Queenie, was shot down by a German fighter plane shortly after leaving the target area.
It was William’s job to lead the escape through to the hatch in the bomb bays but he found the hatch was jammed and the crew were unable to jump to safety.
He proceeded to jump hard on the hatch to attempt to open it although it was known from previous experience that a person jumping feet first instead of rolling head first from a Lancaster would be decapitated.
He successful managed to open the hatch with his body weight escaping the plane and he crashed into the top of a mountain where he was knocked unconscious for several hours.
After a couple of days in enemy territory and several narrow escapes William made contact with American troops and he was returned to his squadron about a week after being shot down having been posted as missing believed killed in the meantime.
Out of the seven members of the crew they all made successful jumps from the aircraft however three did not get back to safety.
The information William provided about their escape from the aircraft provided valuable information which made possible successful modifications to the design of the escape hatch.
William discharged from the RAAF in 1946 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, lived in Brisbane for a period and later moved to Toowoomba where he opened up his own insurance loss assessor business in 1959 and worked until he died in 1963.