Friday 30 May 2003

Tribute to a fellow Annan man

We bloggers are sometimes disparaging towards our "dead tree" colleagues but I was humbled to read this obituary of journalist Doon Campbell who was born in my hometown of Annan. Doon was born without a left forearm. Did he whinge and run to some disability tribunal? No, he went to cover WWII:
It was extraordinary that he was in the front line at all, but to be filing stories in his condition was remarkable. He used to cower in a ditch, behind a tree or behind a tank and bash away on his battle-scarred typewriter - with one hand - as shells and rifle shots went off around him.
Campbell covered the war in Italy, was at the D-Day landings, saw the recapture of Brussels, crossed the Rhine on a glider, witnessed the opening of Belsen, covered the German surrender, reported on events in Palestine and the Chinese civil war and then saw the assassination of Gandhi as well as interviewing Ho Chi Minh and the Shah of Iran.

The Telegraph's obituary tells us more:

In the course of searching for the press's transmitter during the next six hours, Campbell spotted two generals leading a party of 25 men through a wood, and another directing traffic; he saw a soldier being shot while approaching the white flag on a German pillbox and a German motorcyclist giving two Americans a lift. When the dispatch was published Ridgway awarded him a Combat Medal and Glider Wings.
Equally interesting is this:
On entering Brussels, where he caustically wrote that "dolly birds, with Chanel and little else, have moved into the double bedrooms"
In my possession is the post D-Day diary of my uncle - another Annan man - and it seems to confirm this aspect of the liberation of Europe....