St Peter's School
Rise 1933 – 1936
Died 9 September 2014, aged 94
Peter passed peacefully away on 9 September in Lister House, Ripon. He was 94 years old and had a hearty life until January when he got a bad bout of pneumonia. Peter was born in Hull in 1920 to Rose and Gerald Campbell – he was the youngest of five children.
His early years were spent at High Skirlington Farm in Hornsea. It was here that he fell in love with farming, learning all aspects of “the trade”. His father was a hard task master but Peter was a fast learner and soon earned his father’s respect.
After going to the local primary school he was sent as a boarder to St Peter’s where he excelled in sport – especially cricket and rugby. He was in the same house as the legendary Yorkshire and England cricketer, Norman Yardley and they played together in the school’s first XI.
Before the war broke out, Peter had been working in Hull at one of the oil mills but travelled to Brough airfield as a VR. By 1939 he had accumulated a considerable number of flying hours but missed out on the Battle of Britain because a Wing Commander had contacted the CO at Brough saying he was looking for a pilot to join his squadron. Peter flew a variety of fighter planes including tiger moths, hurricanes and spitfires. On one memorable occasion his spitfire squadron, on patrol over France, were jumped by Messerschmitts. Peter’s squadron leader was shot down and spent the rest of the war in captivity. Peter’s plane was badly damaged but he managed to get away. Nursing the plane over the channel he had to put down in a field, choosing one with a haystack at the end to act as an arrester. The outcome was that he was put on a charge for not making it back to the home station! A lot of the flying was giving convoy support to supply ships coming from the USA. This involved flying far out into the Atlantic, without the benefit of radar, to escort the convoys into Britain. During this time he spent about six months in Texas teaching young US fighter pilots the art of shooting down enemy aircraft.
In 2004 Peter was thrilled when his son took him to the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon with log book in hand. Peter even pointed out that some of the exhibit numbers were wrong! The museum even asked if they could take copies of his log book. It has now been donated to the museum for all to see. Peter also enjoyed a trip to Bletchley Park. The highlight there was finding an illustration of a spitfire with his squadron’s markings.
Towards the end of the war he married Beryl and together they had a son, Ian and a daughter, Julia. They had 58 years of happy marriage. The family lived in Lincolnshire for about 15 years – Peter was a poultry specialist for BOCM, the animal food sector of Unilever. In 1959 they moved to Hull. It was during this time that Peter took a keen interest in golf. He eventually became a member of Kirk Ella Golf club after serving his apprenticeship on the public courses around Hull. It was here that he got the first of his three holes in one!
In the early 1970’s Peter and Beryl moved to Burton Leonard and it was here that he became a member of Harrogate Golf Club. He was a chairman of greens for several years and was responsible for improving the drainage on some of the greens. Peter really valued his membership of the club and was still actively playing until about 12 months ago.
Peter was a very early member of the Knaresborough Art Society and held several key jobs. His favourite subject matter was landscapes – especially scenes in the Yorkshire Dales which he seemed to know like an encyclopaedia! Wherever he went in his car, he would take his sketch pads with him. He would often pencil sketch on site and then in the winter finish them off with paints. Christmas cards to family and close friends were original paintings of seasonal scenes. Peter liked the personal touch.
Peter and Beryl were volunteers for Meals on Wheels in Knaresborough, often delivering to people quite a few years younger than them! Sadly Beryl passed away in 2002 but Peter faced up to the future with stoicism.
The biggest frustration he had in the latter part of his life was his increasing deafness – it started during the war but gradually got to the point where even hearing aids were no longer effective.
Peter adored his two grandchildren – Brahim and Hannah. He was very disappointed not to be able to attend Hannah’s wedding to Robin last year due to his failing health. Peter was a regular attender at St Andrew’s Church in Starbeck so his strong faith held him in good stead for whatever road lay ahead. He will be very sadly missed.