INTRODUCING VETERAN GEORGE MEDLEY CAMPBELL
At age fifteen, former Sea Cadet George boarded the train to Shotley, England to join the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman aboard the HMS Ganges. His sea-legs come from following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
This boarding would lead to many ports of call: the Mediterranean; Persian Gulf; the Far East; South Africa; the West Indies; the Scottish Islands, Norway, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands. Add to these travels a Christmas spent on a diamond mine at the edge of the Kalahari Desert, four hundred miles from Cape Town.
His first trip away from England was to the neighbouring European countries; then to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Comrade George will never forget his first sighting of Gibraltar and stated that visiting Malta was “reliving ancient history”. Two of his most memorable experiences were when they were twenty miles off Cape Town, South Africa and they sighted the Table Mountain Range “it was so beautiful and looked like you could touch it”. While sailing in Lagos, Nigeria they managed to run into a whale which, miraculously, survived.
In 1960, Able Seaman George was in Kuwait in the Persian Gulf where he spent three months aboard one of four destroyers in blistering heat; 54+C (130 degrees Fahrenheit) with no air-conditioning. While in service Comrade George did not see combat or conflict but reports there were casualties caused by human error. “In those days, we didn’t have the benefit of helicopters to air lift casualties to the nearest medical facility - we did the best we could until we reached shore.”
As a Seaman Gunner, Comrade George was responsible for the general maintenance of the ship such as the HMS Finisterre with 250 seamen onboard. He trained and is a qualified butcher and on his last ship, serviced eight hundred seamen with their dietary needs plus was responsible for the issuance of the daily rum and beer rations and all record-keeping of the stores.
Comrade George is the recipient of the General Service Medal, Borneo Clasp as he spent one and a half years protecting the Malaysian Confederation from the Indonesian Communists. He also participated in the Jungle Warfare Training in Kota Bharu in Malaya, and performed duties at Border Patrol in Sarawak, an independent country (later a province of Malaya, Malaysia). In 2013, Comrade George was awarded a medal from the Malaysian Government for protecting Malaysians from January 1963 to July 1964.
After twelve years at sea, amateur boxer, Comrade George left the Royal Navy and returned to Liverpool, England. His brother in Canada sponsored George so he could be his best man. George met the love of his life and the rest is history. In 1979 he started his carpet cleaning business which is an ongoing enterprise.
Comrade George’s closing comments: life in the Royal Navy allowed him to develop positive life-long values and taught him the importance of camaraderie. George has a proclivity for warmer climate but before departing for his six month hiatus under a warmer sun, he participates in our Veterans’ Dinner and is thankful for our Legion and our Branch.
His last comment…”the interview was not a third degree and while travelling through Texas, wearing my Veteran’s Cap, I have been stopped and thanked on numerous occasions for my service.”
We thank you for your service.