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‘The bravest man I knew’

2 years ago

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Gavin Green | Journalist


2 September 2022

‘He was the bravest man I knew,’ my dad told me some years after Donald Campbell was killed in January 1967 on Coniston Water in his jet-propelled hydroplane, his favourite Bluebird.

My father had a complicated relationship with Campbell, as did most. He would later write: ‘He was brave, fearful, stubborn, loyal, treacherous. Highly intelligent, supremely foolish. Religious one moment, an atheist the next. Saint Donald, Don the Con. You name it. Donald Campbell was it.’

They met at a difficult time for Campbell. His much-hyped 1963 Land Speed Record attempt on the flat salt of Lake Eyre in South Australia had flopped, fated by unseasonably wet weather and ridiculed by a media circus covering a high-profile failure.

The Australian press, keen to revel in British misfortune, crucified him.

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