[ by Charles Cameron — a warrior, a monk, and where that leaves me ]
Like one of those toy acrobats who flips up, over and under when you squeeze or release the two sticks he’s strung on, I’m strung between these two fellows…
and flip up, over and under on the string that stretches from war to peace.
So here I am at Zenpundit, and I thought it might be time for me to give you a little more background about myself, where I’m coming from, and where I hope to be going…
To get to the figure on the left of the image above, Captain Orford Gordon Cameron DSC, RN, my father, we have to track back a couple of generations deeper into family history, to this gentleman whose first name I bear as my own second name.
Col. Aylmer Spicer Cameron, VC, CB, my great-grandfather, earned his Victoria Cross during the Sepoy Rebellion:
For conspicuous bravery on the 30th of March, 1858, at Kotah, in having headed a small party of men, and attacked a body of armed fanatic rebels, strongly posted in a loop-holed house, with one narrow entrance. Lieutenant Cameron stormed the house, and killed three rebels in single combat. He was severely wounded, having lost half of one hand by a stroke from a tulwar.
There’s pride in that, passed down from his son to my father and so on down the line…
There’s pride, too, in the story of my own father’s DSC.
As gunnery officer of HMS Sheffield in the Battle of the Barents Sea, Lt. Cdr. Cameron’s guns and those of Jamaica crippled the German heavy cruiser Hipper. When the news arrived in Germany, Hitler “with veins standing out on his neck” excoriated Admiral Raeder:
This operation only confirmed what he had instinctively felt all along — that the surface fleet was completely useless and that it was poorly staffed and ineptly commanded. The three battleships Tirpitz ,Schleswig-Holstein and Schlesien , the two pocket battleships Admiral Scheer and Lützow , the battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau , the heavy cruisers Hipper and Prinz Eugen , and the light cruisers Emden , Köln , Leipzig , and Nürnberg would all be decommissioned and summarily scrapped. To the extent possible their guns would be converted to land use. Henceforth, the largest navy ship would be a destroyer and all emphasis would be on the u-boat fleet.
This brilliant action fought by the Royal Navy to protect an Allied convoy to Russia at the end of the year (1942) led directly to a crisis in the enemy’s naval policy and ended the dream of another German High Seas Fleet.
I have been thinking about my father quite a bit recently, since his medals arrived from England about ten days ago:
His DSC, left, was awarded for gallantry in the Barents Sea engagement, for which Cpt. Sherbrooke, on Onslow, was awarded the Victoria Cross, and Rear-Admiral Burnett, on Sheffield, the DSO.
There’s pride there, too.
Gallantry: what a word.
And the military strain in the family runs deep…
This photo of my parents’ wedding shows, from left to right in uniform, my grandfather Col. Sir Henry Clayton Darlington KCB, CMG, TD; John Wise; my great uncle Gen. Sir Clement Armitage KCB, CMG, DSO; Jan Newnham (best man); my father, Lt. Cdr. OG Cameron; my grandfather Brig. Orford Somerville Cameron, DSO, RA; my uncle Glenton Roslyn Williams; my uncle Colonel Henry John Darlington, OBE, DL; and Rev. Aylmer Peter Cameron, also my uncle.
Quite the gang — and not a civilian among them, although admittedly the photo was taken in 1942.
My varied aunts — brilliant, eccentric, elegant, delightful, take my word for it — are there too.
So that’s my father, and the pole that pulls me towards gallantry and the martial side of things. The other pole is represented by Fr. Trevor Huddleston CR, to the right of my father in the image at the top of this post.
I’ll return to Fr. Trevor in my next installment.