Soldier and policeman

Born: January 6, 1920;

Died: July 10, 2016

ALEXANDER Campbell, who has died aged 96, was once a teenage joiner just waiting for the time when he could swap a job with the London and North Eastern Railway for life as policeman.

Too young to train as an officer when he left school, he embarked on an apprenticeship and used his spare time to expand his education at evening classes. It was an astute move.

By 1938 he had secured a job as a boy clerk – the forerunner to today’s police cadets – with Lanarkshire Constabulary and soon began his progress through the ranks from constable to superintendent and ultimately chief constable of the neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway force for almost 20 years.

En route he had been a captain in the Royal Scots during the Second World War, surviving enemy bullets, thanks to his mess tin, and a bomb blast that put him out of action with a shrapnel wound.

He loved both roles and excelled in each, receiving the Queen’s Police Medal and being made an OBE during his police career and latterly was honoured with France’s highest decoration, the Legion D’honneur, as a Normandy veteran.

Born in Dunbar, East Lothian, the eldest of John and Elizabeth Campbell’s three sons, he was educated locally and left school at 15 but had always wanted to become a police officer.

After his joiner’s apprenticeship he got the chance to join the Lanarkshire force, based initially at its Hamilton headquarters where his duties included working at the local fire station, a service then supported by the police. He also worked in Cambuslang and, through the police, met his wife Barbara, an employee of the City of Glasgow force at Maryhill’s Civil Defence Report Centre.

By this time, the war had broken out and the couple married, in Glasgow in 1942, before Mr Campbell was called up to serve his country. After initial training in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Inverness, he was selected as officer material and posted to the Isle of Man, coming runner up to the best cadet. In June 1943 he was commissioned into the Royal Scots, the regiment his father had served in during the Great War when he was badly wounded and lost an arm.

After a spell as a training centre instructor Mr Campbell became a platoon commander in 8th Battalion’s B Company and went into frontline action in France, a few days after D Day, in June 1944. He landed at Juno Beach but after the breakout from the bridgehead he was wounded when a piece of bomb shrapnel sliced through his knee. He also claimed he owed his life to his mess tin which, along with his tin of talc, took the full force of a bullet. The tin remained an important piece of wartime memorabilia in his family.

Returning to the UK to recuperate, he then joined the Scottish Command Weapon Training School staff at Bridge of Earn, was promoted to captain and demobbed in 1946.

Back in policing he served in Strathaven, Rutherglen, Bellshill and Lanark and studied criminology at Glasgow University. Rapidly promoted from sergeant in 1948 to superintendent grade 1 in 1961, four years later he was appointed chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

Not only did he have the physical stature – at 6ft 4in – he also had the experience, attention to detail, impeccable manners and gravitas that made him ideally suited to the role.

He held the post until retiring in 1984 and his tenure covered a range of major investigations including one of Scotland’s longest missing persons inquiries, the disappearance of Dumfries teenager Pat McAdam. The 17-year-old vanished after a shopping trip to Glasgow in 1967. A suspect was finally charged with her murder 40 years later but died in prison before being tried.

The period also spanned the 1970s reign of Glasgow-born serial killer Archibald Hall, also known as Roy Fontaine, and dubbed the Monster Butler. Hall, former butler to Lady Margaret Hudson at her Dumfriesshire estate, shot his ex-lover David Wright there following an argument. He then moved to London and worked for former Labour MP and minister Walter Scott-Elliot and his wife Dorothy.

He and an accomplice Michael Kitto planned to rob his elderly employers but were disturbed by Mrs Scott-Elliot who was smothered. Her husband was then plied with drugged whisky and driven north with his wife’s body in the boot of his car. The men were accompanied by prostitute Mary Coggle, also the couple’s housekeeper and a former lover of Hall’s, who dressed in a mink coat and wig, was passed off as the dead woman.

Mrs Scott-Elliot was buried in Perthshire. Her husband was beaten to death a couple of days later and left in a shallow grave in the Highlands. Mary Coggle was killed, her skull smashed with a poker, when they feared her open enjoyment of the spoils would arouse suspicion. The final victim was Hall’s half-brother Donald, drowned in a bath after being subdued with chloroform because Hall deemed him a sex offender.

Kitto and Hall were caught in North Berwick, on their way to dispose of the body, and in 1978 each received four life sentences. The file on Mrs Scott-Elliot’s death was left open.

The late 1970s was also a time of deep sadness in Mr bCampbell’s career when two of his constables and a cadet were killed, along with a Ministry of Transport examiner, when their patrol car collided with two lorries on the A74 near Johnstonebridge.

Mr Campbell, an old-school policeman who was a firm advocate of local policing and regularly visited every station on his patch, felt the loss profoundly.

A founder member and past president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), he also chaired the Scottish Police College’s board of governors.

Among his many outside interests were gardening, deerstalking, game and target rifle shooting. An expert marksman, he won the force’s individual small bore rifle championship five times, and also enjoyed sailing, fishing and breeding Arab horses.

A member and former president of Dumfries Rotary and Burns clubs, he was a long-serving senior elder at Tinwald Church and the last surviving war-time commissioned officer of the 8th Battalion, the Royal Scots.

Predeceased by his wife Barbara and their daughter Alexandra, he is survived by his remaining daughter Victoria, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.