Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jock Campbell and "jock columns"

The war in North Africa in WWII produced some colourful characters. One is Brigadier Campbell, nicknamed "Jock", as his name was John and he was Scottish. Wikipedia has a page about him. He was an artillery commander, a Lieutenant-Colonel, in the 7th Armoured Division Support Group at the start of the war (Royal Horse Artillery). He eventually won a VC at Sidi Rezegh, during the Crusader Battle, on 21 November 1941, not many days after the start of the offensive. One of his inventions was the "Jock Column". The Jock Column was a small combined arms force with all arms, although the armour was typically armoured cars. There also could be field artillery, anti-tank artillery, and infantry with integral transport. There is an interesting piece about the 2nd New Zealand Division jock columns in 1942. The more conservative officers in the 8th Army did not think much of dispersion and the use of ad hoc formations such as jock columns. I believe that jock columns disappeared as a factor after Montgomery's arrival on the scene.

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