Wyndham History

Donald Hugh Campigli DCM (1896-1952)


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Donald Hugh Campigli DCM (1896-1952)



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World War One Veterans Item Type Metadata


Donald Hugh Campigli DCM

Birth Date


Service Number

1454 (1st enlistment);
7460 (2nd enlistment).

Enlistment Date

Next of Kin

Mr L Campigli,
75 Railway Place,

Address at time of Enlistment

75 Railway Place,


Marital Status


Death Date

Place of Burial

Springvale Crematorium

Biographical Text

No.1454 Private Donald Hugh Campigli DCM
Donald Hugh Campigli served twice during the Great War.

His first enlistment was between December 1914 and February 1916.

His second enlistment was between July 1917 and June 1920.

Donald Hugh Campigli was born at Bunyip South to Mr James Louis Campigli and Catherine Murray in 1896. They had married in Victoria in 1887, and had six children:

  • George Murray Campigli, M.C. - born 1890 at Inglewood (A.I.F. No.237)
  • Louis Campigli - born 1893 at Cranbourne, Died 1893 at Ballarat East
  • Frank Louis Campigli - born 1894 at Rocky LD
  • Donald Hugh Campigli D.C.M. - born 1896 at Bunyip (A.I.F. No. 1454)
  • John Murray (Jack) Campigli - born 1898 at Bunyip South (A.I.F. No. 3930)
  • Christine Louise Campigli - born 1900 at Bunyip South

The family moved constantly. In 1908 Mr Campigli was the Stationmaster at Smythesdale; in 1909 at Scarsdale; between 1912 and1915 at Boort; 1916 at Williamstown; 1919 at Camberwell.

Donald had a strong connection with the Scarsdale School, and attended Old Boy functions there in later life.

Mr J. L. Campigli possibly spent time as a relieving Stationmaster at the Werribee Railway Station while his sons were at the front, and may have nominated his son Donald’s name to be entered on the Werribee Roll of Honor Board.

Pre War
Young Donald Campigli attended the Scarsdale State School (No.980) between September 1905 and September 1910.
Grenville Standard, 18 December 1915, p.1.

After the family moved, he served for eight months with an AMF Unit, until the time of his enlistment. He was a former member of the 70th Infantry Battalion, 'H' Company, who were based at Williamstown. The 70th were ordered on active service in August 1914. Ballarat Star, 6 August 1914, p.7.

War Service
On his first enlistment, Donald Campigli was just 18 years of age. He stated that he was 19 years and 4 months. He applied to enlist in the A.I.F. on 11 December 1914, and provided a copy of his father’s written consent.  His father was named as his Next of Kin, and the home address was 75 Railway Place, Williamstown.  After his father died, that changed to his mother at 87 Prospect Hill Road, East Camberwell. He swore his oath at Melbourne on 14 December 1914,

After a month of initial training, Private Donald Campigli embarked at Melbourne on 2 February 1915 per HMAT Clan McGillivray A46, as a member of the 8th Infantry Battalion's 2nd Reinforcements. The ship carried the men to Egypt for further training.

On 10 February 1915, the Werribee Shire Banner first added Donald Campigli’s name to their published Roll of Honor.

Gallipoli Campaign
The 8th Battalion embarked at Alexandria (in Egypt) per HMAT Clan McGillivray A46, and sailed for the Port of Mudros (on Lemnos Islans) on 8 April 1915. After arriving at their destination, the men practiced disembarking down rope ladders into small boats for several days.  This was a skill that they would need when they arrived at Gaba Tepe on the Dardanelles.

The Unit War Diary does not mention the name of the ship in which the 8th Battalion travelled from Lemnos to Gallipoli, or their date of departure. It is recorded elsewhere that the 8th Battalion arrived off Gaba Tepe (Gallipoli) on the Clan McGillivray, and that the men were woken at 3.30 a.m. and fed a breakfast of hot bully beef and stew.  The men began disembarking as part of the second wave, at 5.45 a.m. Their objective being a ridge marked on their maps as Q.8. to R.5.

Once the troops disembarked, the Clan MacGillivray was one of several ships that were used to evacuate the lightly wounded away from Anzac Cove.

According to the unit's War Diary, after landing, the whole Battalion were in the firing line. Companies of Battalions within the area were mixed up, and the men were subject to very accurate and searching artillery fire. Casualties on the first day of the landing were 12 officers and 200 other ranks.

Donald Campigli described landing at Gallipoli with the 8th Battalion, on the first day, in several published letters. He landed on the beach at Gaba Tepe with 'B' Company of the 8th Battalion.  After driving the Turks from a trench in Shrapnel Gully, it became their temporary base.  In front of them were dead and wounded Australians, and despite orders to the contrary, Donald was able to take water to some of the injured, and retrieve two wounded soldiers to his lines.

"We were in an old trench, and while there, a sudden cry came along. A couple of lads in front of where I was had gone down. We knew at once that we were wanted. I could not stand the cry, “Give us a drink!”. I got out. I ran 25 or 30 yards, to where they lay. I picked one up, and got him out of danger. He was not badly wounded. He belonged to another battalion. Leaving him I made back for the other lad. I found out later that he was Private D G Mills. He was shot in the back, and was crying out for water. I put my bottle to his lips, and he had a drink. Then I got hold of him, and put him on my back, determining, if possible, to get back with him to the Base Hospital. But I had only gone a short distance when I felt his grip of me loosen. The next instant he fell of my back – a corpse. That was the end of poor Mills – a Turkish sniper had got him in the side. The shot had penetrated his stomach. I got him into the trench, but he was dead."
Ballarat Star, 20 September 1915, p.1.

This action earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for Gallantry.

His Service Record states "Special Mention for Conspicuous Gallantry during the period 25th April 1915 to 5th May 1915."
Then on 15 July 1915 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

On another occasion, Private Campigli was part of a sniper team that got lost.  They had scaled the heights, and rushed on after the Turks for some four miles or more. "In the rush we all became split up. You could not find more than a hundred or a couple of hundred men in their proper places. With a couple of others, whom I did not know, we pegged along. Suddenly we discovered ourselves mixed up with an Indian mounted battery, and we remained with them for five days. We found them very fine fellows. Of course they were officered by Anglo-Indians. They treated us excellently. In addition to our "bully beef" and biscuits, we shared their cakes and other food. They cooked their and our food. I did not see any goats with them. During the time we slept in one of their trenches. At the end of five days we were passed back to our own lines. The first reception I experienced was an invitation to come and look at myself “dead”. Bodies of other fellows were about, and it was believed that I was one of them, for so I had been reported."
Ballarat Star, 20 September 1915, p.1.

[The Indian troops were possibly members of the 7th Indian Mountain Artillery Brigade]

Ten days after the first landing, (on 5 May), the 2nd Brigade (including the 8th Battalion) was transferred further down the peninsula, from ANZAC to Cape Helles, to help in the attack on the village of Krithia. They gained little ground, and the Brigade almost a third of its men.  At Cape Helles, Donald met Private Stokoe and Private Bert Burdett. While there he took part in the "gallant charge of the 2nd Brigade" under Brigadier-General J W McCay. This was known as the Second Battle of Krithia, and the Australians suffered 50% casualties.

In Donald’s own words - three weeks after landing, a shrapnel bullet struck him in the groin. He was sent back to hospital for eight weeks of treatment, where he then contacted rheumatic fever and pneumonia. Despite wanting to return to the front, his doctors then considered he was permanently disabled for further active service. Private Campigli kept the actual bullet that struck him, as a memento.
Warrnambool Standard, 22 January 1916, p.8.   

His military service record states that on 11 May 1915, he was treated for Rheumatic Fever by No.11 Casualty Clearing Station, and transferred to Hospital Ship Gildford Castle. This would have taken him to a military hospital on the island of Lemnos, and later back to Egypt.

Casualty Lists were published regularly in the Australian Newspapers of the day.  The name Private D.H. Campigli, Williamstown was published in the Warrnambool Standard, 3 June 1915, p.1.

In the Werribee Shire Banner, 18 May 1916, p.1 the editor removed the name of Private Donald Campigli (Wounded) from their published Roll of Honor. It had appeared continuously in eleven previous editions, up to that date. No reason for this was given.

On 5 July 1915, Private Donald Campigli embarked from the Port of Suez per HMAT Ballarat, to return to Australia. He was officially discharged from the Australian Imperial Forces on 2 February 1916.

Post First Enlistment
After writing to Donald Campagli, the mother of one of the men who he rescued, but who was shot again during the rescue, asked him for more details on her son's death. Donald's detailed reply to Mrs Mills was published in the Gippslander and Mirboo Times,  23 September 1915, p.3.

Not long after being discharged from the A.I.F., Donald Campigli accepted a position as Recruiting Sergeant, and was based in the Western Districts, at Camperdown.

In January 1916, Sergeant Body and Private D Campigli D.C.M., arrived in Camperdown and opened a Recruiting Office.
The Age, 17 January 1916, p.11.

Private Campigli then became Sergeant Campigli, when his visit was recorded in the Camperdown Chronicle, 15 January 1916, p.3.  He took his recruitment office to many towns in the Hampdenshire area, including Terang, Hampden, Lismore, Derrinallum and Cressy.

This travelling and work commitment affected his health, and on 16 February 1916, he was relieved of his duty, and told to have three months rest at home.
Lismore Advertiser, 16 February 1916, p.9.

He recovered quickly though, and by 23 February 1916, he resumed his duties as Recruiting Officer at Hampden.
Camperdown Chronicle, 22 February 1916, p.2.

On 22 November 1916, Sergeant Don Campigli, who was the recruiting Sergeant at Camperdown, was presented with his Distinguished Conduct Medal in Melbourne on 22 November 1916. The medal was for services on Gallipoli.
Camperdown Herald, 22 November 1916, p.3.

His medal was presented to him by the Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, at a ceremony in the Sturt Street Drill Hall.
Included in the newspaper report, is a photo of Private D Campigli, wearing his award ribbon.
Weekly Times (Victoria), 25 November 1916, p.23.

The start of 1917 saw the beginning of a new recruitment drive. Sergeants W. Caffrey and D. Campigli both became official organisers for recruiting in the Ballarat Federal electorate.
Ballarat Courier, 30 January 1917, p.3.

By early 1917 the number of men presenting as recruits had fallen dramatically. Conscription was rejected by the Australian public, so the Government introduced a new recruiting Campaign. In Victoria, it was called the Sportsmen’s Thousand. Posters were published depicting famous people, and the theme of "Join together, Train together, Embark Together and Fight together" was emphasised.

Recruiting in Victoria had become so low, that the Altona Military Camp was dismantled in February 1917.
Williamstown Chronicle, 10 February 1917, p.3.

Sergeant Campigli and his team continued their recruitment campaign and meetings. In March they were held Lal Lal and Buninyong.

As part of the Sportsmen's Battalion campaign, Donald Campigli made the decision to re-enlist in the A.I.F.  He swore his oath again at Ballarat on 26 May 1917, before returning to the town of Boort, where he planned to invite all of his childhood mates to accompany him into camp on 1 July 1917.
The Age, 16 June 1917, p.12.

He spoke at Lalbert and Quambatook, where he stated that out of 28,000 men who had returned from the war, only 3,081 had since gone back to the front.
"...not enough were coming forward to fill the gaps."
"...16,000 per month were needed, but only 5,000 were coming forward."
"...After 22 months, he felt fit enough to again face the common foe."
Quambatook Times, 20 June 1917, p.2.

Second re-enlistment
His second service record was annotated as "Sportsmens Thousand", and his first unit was the "Sports Unit".  When he re-enlisted, he nominated his mother as next of kin (Catherine Campigli, 87 Prospect Hill Road, East Camberwell.)  This was also his home address.

After initial training at the Broadmeadows Military Camp, Donald Campigli was appointed as a Private (with a new military number 7460) to the 25th Reinforcements for the 7th Battalion.

He embarked from Port Melbourne on 4 August 1917, with the 7th Infantry Battalion’s 25th reinforcements and sailed to Scotland per HMAT Themostocles A32.  They disembarked at Glasgow on 2 October 1917.

Back in the U.K., Private Campigli marched in to 2nd Infantry Training Base at Durrington, near Lark Hill, on 3 October 1917.  Later in the month he moved to the 12th Training Battalion at Codford for suitability testing, priors to becoming a signaller.

Donald was taken off strength with the 7th Battalion when he was accepted for a Signal Training course.  He was taken on strength as a Sapper with the Signal Engineers Detail, at the Engineer Training Depot of Signal School, at Shefford, on 30 October 1917.

After completing his training, Sapper Campigli marched in to the Signal Depot at Clifton, and remained there until 19 April 1918, when he proceeded to France, via the Port of Folkestone in Kent.

On 28 April 1918, Sapper Campigli marched in to the new Australian Corps Depot (the 4th Division) “In the Field”, in France. They were then located in the Somme as part of the German Spring Offensive. After remaining with them for a month, Sapper Campigli marched out on 26 May 1918, and was taken on strength with the Australian Corps Signal Company at Bertangles.  The company were concentrating on erecting Airline communication lines to nearby units.

Company Orders for May 1918 report the arrival of No. 7460 Sapper D H Campigli.  He was one of ten new Telegraphists to "B" Echelon from Aust. Corps Depot on 12 May 1918. On 18 May 1918, Sapper Campigli reported to Company H.Q. from “B” Echelon.

To handle the local message traffic, the Signal Corps needed 31 Telegraphists, 12 Counter Clerks, 6 Superintendents and 6 Switchboard Operators. 

His unit seemed to have excess staff, so on the 11 June 1918, Sapper D. H. Campigli (Telegraphist “B”) was transferred to Signal reinforcements at the Australian Corps Depot, but was to remain attached to Australian Corps Signal Company. On 16 June 1918, he was one of eight Sappers who reported to the Australian Wireless Section for training.

On 5 July 1918, Sapper Campigli was detached to 4 Division Signal Coy at Bussy-les-Daours. They were participating in an attack to advance the front line, east of Amiens. The operation called for 120,000 men, 2,650 guns and 580 tanks to attack across a twenty mile front.

On 8 August 1918, all five Australian Divisions went into battle together for the first time, in the “Raid” on Corbie. The result was a comprehensive breakthrough, and an advance of over eight miles along a ten mile front around Villers-Bretonneux. The allies gained more ground on the following day and continued the offensive until 10 August.

The end of August 1918 saw the Australians involved in intense fighting at Mont Saint-Quentin, and in September they began attacking the Hindenburg Line, on the border with Germany.

By September 1918, the Australians were becoming exhausted, and because of the continuing number of casualties, some battalions were having to be amalgamated.

On 8 October 1918, Sapper Campigli reported sick to hospital. He was treated by the 13th Field Ambulance, and sent back to the 41st Stationary Hospital (Royal Army Medical Corps) at Amiens. There he was diagnosed as suffering with Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s inner lining).  On 16 October 1918, he was moved to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Rouen for several days, before being sent back to England.

Once there, he was admitted to the 2nd Southern Hospital at Bristol on 20 October 1918, and diagnosed as suffering with a severe case of Mitral Stenosis (Heart murmur).  Nine days later he was moved to the Military Hospital at Taunton, and was there when the Armistice was signed. His condition on that day was reported as “progressing favourably”. By 10 December 1918, he was recorded as “Convalescent”, and on 17 December 1918 he was discharged from hospital, on furlough.

Returning to duty on 1 January 1919 at the No 4 Command Depot, Hurdcott, Sapper Campigli was transferred from the Australian Corps Signal Company to the A.I.F. Admin Headquarters in London (Records Section). In March 1919, he was appointed as a Temporary Corporal, until being granted three months leave.

This was classified as 'non-military employment', to allow him to gain experience in mixed farming. Donald spent the time between 20 May to 20 August 1919 with Mr Hugh Murray at ‘Ramscaig’, Brora, Scotland.

When his leave expired, he returned to duty at A.I.F. Headquarters in London until 11 November 1919.  He then returned to Mr Murray’s farm in Scotland for a further term of unpaid leave, until his passage home could be organised.

On 17 April 1920, Corporal Campigli finally embarked from the Port of London per S.S. Bahia Castillo (travelling 3rd Class, A.I.F.), and returned to Australia, via Fremantle.

Post War Australia
After the S.S. Bahia Castillo docked in Melbourne, Corporal Campigli was discharged from the A.I.F., at the 3rd Military District, on 19 June 1920.

One year later Donald married Doris Isabella Taylor at Williamstown in 1921, and they moved to Canterbury in Melbourne.

Between 1922 and 1924, Donald and Doris Campigli lived at “Gowrie”, 41 Canterbury Road, Canterbury. He was working as a clerk when their first son Donald was born there on 10 December 1924.
The Age, 20 December 1924, p.5.

In 1927, the family moved to No.11 Wentworth Avenue, Camberwell North, and they remained there until 1936. Donald returned to his wartime job as a telegraphist in 1931, and then became a Public Servant in 1936.

The family changed houses several more times, but always remained in the Camberwell North area.

Donald Hugh Campigli D.C.M. died in 1952 in the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, and was cremated at the Springvale Crematorium on 23 December 1952.

Medals and Entitlements:

  • Distinguished Conduct Medal *
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal

His name appears on the Werribee Shire Oak Board as “Campigli D”.

The name “Campigli D (W) of Werribee” first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 10 February, 1916, p.1.
His name was deleted from their Roll after their edition dated 18 May 1916.

Miss Campigli was the postmistress at Scarsdale. One brother won the D.C.M., another won the Military Cross.  She has 20 first cousins in the A.I.F. Berringa Herald, 9 March 1918, p.3.

Trooper John Murray (Jack) Campigli, 4th Light Horse Regt, died at the 74th Clearing Station at Ludd  in Palestine on 21 November 1918.
The Argus, 21 November 1922, p.1.

John Albert Campigli, died 19 November 1952, aged 76.
The Argus, 20 November 1952, p.8.
Probate notice publication: The Argus, 27 November 1952, p.16.

Lieut-Col, George Murray Campigli M.C., died 27 August 1951 at East Camberwell. Son of James Louis and Catherine Campigli, brother of Mona (Mrs M Porter of Scarsdale), Annie, Frank, Don Jack (deceased, 4th L.H., A.I.F.), Chrissie (Mrs J Hughs), Will and Syd.  ANZAC 4th L.H. Regiment and B.E.F. The Age, 30 August 1951, p.2.

The three brothers are commemorated together at -https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people?conflict_id=2&page=898

There are photos of the three brothers (from an article in the Railway Union Gazette) at http://sonsofwilliamstown.com.au/portfolio/jm-campigli/

Sportsmen’s Thousand enlistment Poster - https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ARTV00026/

* The Distinguished Conduct Medal, post-nominal letters DCM, was established in 1854 by Queen Victoria as a decoration for gallantry in the field by other ranks of the British Army. It is the oldest British award for gallantry and was a second level military decoration, until it was discontinued in 1993.  Wikipedia



Unit War Diary

Death – 21 December 1952. Notice in the Argus of 22 December 1952, p14 Service History – http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/

Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901 CD
Marriage Index Victoria 1921-1942 CD

Marriage – 1921 Married Doris Isabella Taylor. They had 2 sons, Donald George Campigli (b.10 Dec 1924) and Keith https://www.facebook.com/8th-Battalion-AIF-192802444088211/

Clan Macgillivray – “Cobbers in Khaki : The History of the 8th Battalion, 1914-1919 by Ronald J Austin (McCrae, Vic : Slouch Hat Publications, 1997)

Medals and Entitlements

Distinguished Conduct Medal
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal


“Donald Hugh Campigli DCM (1896-1952),” Wyndham History, accessed October 2, 2023, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/2490.


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