b. 08/05/1916 Dublin, Ireland. d. 04/12/1943 at sea.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 12/03/1940 Upwood, Huntingdonshire.
Michael “Mick” Patrick Campion (1916-1943) was born on 8th May 1916 in Dublin, Ireland, the eldest son of James and Margaret Campion (nee Reilly). The family lived at 120 Capel Street in Dublin, but Michael’s early life was blighted with tragedy, with the death of his mother Margaret on 16th February 1919, followed by his 1 year old infant brother James on 2nd August later that year. It is presumed that they both succumbed to the Spanish influenza pandemic. Michael was then taken in by his uncle and aunt Michael and Norah Campion. They lived on their farm, Ballicknahea House, Horseleap, near Clara, County Offaly.
At the age of 20, Michael chose to enlist in the Royal Air Force, and became a Leading Aircraftman in 220 Squadron. On the outbreak of World War Two, he transferred to 90 Bomber Squadron, based at RAF Upwood, in Huntingdonshire.
On 12th March 1940, at RAF Upwood, two Blenheim bombers were taking off when they collided, bursting into flames. Campion and Aircraftman Ernest Frost were among the first to arrive at the scene, where the crew of one aircraft had escaped unaided. Not knowing that the pilot was the sole occupant of the other bomber, Frost entered the rear cockpit, which was full of smoke and fumes, searching for the wireless operator. Satisfying himself that no one was there, he climbed out and, nearly exhausted, ran to the front cockpit, where Campion was trying to rescue the pilot, Sergeant Alphonse Hermmels. Working heroically, and at great risk to themselves, they extricated the pilot from the burning wreckage. Shortly afterwards the petrol tanks exploded and the whole aircraft was rapidly burnt out. Unfortunately Hermmels died from his injuries.
Both Michael Campion and Ernest Frost were awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division. Michael never actually received the EGM as in September 1940, it was replaced by the newly created George Cross. On 3rd July 1943, Michael married Francis Rosina Britton (nee Evans), who was just 22 and already a widow. She was working as a Clerk when they met, and tragically they would be married for just six months.
On 4th December 1943, Michael was killed in a crash off the Azores, flying aboard Fortress IIA FK206 “K”. His body was not recovered from the Atlantic. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey. His GC, 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal 1939-45 and War Medal 1939-45 are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: LOST AT SEA OFF THE AZORES COAST.
Runnymede Memorial (Brian Drummond)