Special Investigation Branch

Major Clarence Edgar Campion
(Born 13 June 1892 - Killed in Action 20th May 1940)
Major C E Campion RMP (SIB)
Clarence Edgar Campion was born on the 13th June 1892 in Peckham, London, the son of Edwin William Campion, a general labourer and stoker. He was the youngest of nine children.
He joined the Metropolitan Police on the 23rd March 1914 at the age of 21.
Took part in the 1st World War with the RASC in France in 1915. On the 14th November 1916 married a French national at Cassel Town Hall, Northern France. After hostilities returned to his police career. He lived with his wife Leonie Eugenie in Stoneleigh, Surrey. There were no children.
Promotions: Sgt 2nd Class 6-8-23: Sgt 1st Class 1-10-28: Local Inspector 6-6-32: Inspector 1st Class 16-4-34: Chief Inspector 30-10-35: Superintendent 29-4-38.
In the rank of Superintendent, he was in charge of the Criminal Record Office at NSY.
An extract from the Police Review dated 6th February 1940 reads:
"The formation of a special force of Scotland Yard detectives for service in France has been completed. This follows the visit of Chief Insp Hatherill to France to investigate thefts of Government stores and subsequent conferences between Scotland Yard and the War Office. The principle duty of the new force will be the protection of Government stores in the BEF area. It will probably be headed by Supt Campion, at present in charge of CRO at Scotland Yard. He will, it is expected, be given senior rank in the Army."
An agreement was reached between the Home Office and the War Office to consign an agreed number of Metropolitan Police CID Officers to assist the Military Police of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) France, into the investigation re the loss and theft of stores and military equipment in large scales. Superintendent Campion together with 18 others volunteered. Metropolitan Police Orders dated the 15th February 1940 lists the 19 led by Supt Campion. The Force Order states that the men having joined His Majesty's Fighting Forces as supernumaries will receive pay and allowances to the 11th of February 1940.
The loss and thefts of stores became a major problem. By the end of January 1940 the force strength was 222,000. Maintenance Depots had been established in Brest and Nantes but it became necessary to establish advance bases. Very soon Movement Control was operating some 90 stations whilst 14 ports were in active use. Some 45,000 vehicles were shifting 80,000 tons of stores & equipment per month. NAAFI added another 90 institutes along the lines of communication.
After recruitment the 19 stalwarts reported on the 12th February 1940, and spent two weeks at the CMP Depot at Mytchet near Aldershot, to learn the basic rudiments of military life and discipline. Whilst at Mytchet they were joined by George Baker a retired Detective Inspector making the final number 20. They all embarked for France on the 28th February 1940, under the command of then Major Campion.
On arrival in France, the OC plus two Investigators were put into place at GHQ: Two Investigators with 1 Corps, three with 11 Corps, the rest being divided between LeMan, Nantes, Rouen, Rennes and Brest.
On the 21st March 1940, a letter was written by the Provost Marshal (BEF) to Sir Norman Kendal, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He said that he was highly impressed and appreciative of Campion's presence. He concluded by saying that he may want more detectives of the same calibre.
There are conflicting reports of Major Campion's death. However, it is recorded that during the evacuation at Dunkirk, Major Campion was hit by shrapnel in the head and died on the 20th May 1940. He was 47 years of age.
His death is commemorated on The Dunkirk Memorial, Nord Column 155, that stands at the entrance to the British War Graves Section of Dunkirk Town Cemetery, which lies on the eastern outskirts of the town, on the road to Veurne (in Belgium).
As the first Commanding Officer of the Special Investigation Branch it was decided to name the new Headquarters of the Special Investigation Branch (UK) based in Bulford, Wiltshire, "Campion Lines" in his memory. The official opening was conducted by the Adjutant General on Tuesday the 23rd February 1999.
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