Orders, Decorations and Medals (30 June 1998)

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Date of Auction: 30th June 1998

Sold for £1,400

Estimate: £700 - £900

Military General Service 1793-1814, 1 clasp, Martinique (R. Thomson, Lieut. R. Engrs.) extremely fine and rare £700-900


Only 40 M.G.S. medals issued to the Royal Engineers, including five with clasp for Martinique.

Colonel Robert Thomson was born on 23 May 1786 and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers as Second Lieutenant on 1 November 1804. He served in Nova Scotia 1809-11 and was present at the siege and capture of Martinique, and the siege of Fort Bourbon in 1809, with the division of the army under Sir George Prevost. After a period of Engineer duties at Dover, he embarked in October 1812 as Commanding Engineer with the expedition to the north coast of Spain, and at the blockade of Santona, under the orders of Sir Home Popham. From December 1813 until April 1815, he served in Holland and the Netherlands; was present at the operations against Antwerp, and as Commanding Engineer with the separate expedition in 1814 under Major-General Gibbs, for the reduction of Fort Baatz on the island of South Beveland.

Thomson was promoted Captain in May 1814 and, from February 1819 until April 1830, was Commanding Engineer at Sheerness. From June 1830 until October 1836, Thomson was Commanding Engineer in the Cape of Good Hope, and in the campaign of 1835 in Kaffirland, consequent upon the invasion of the Colony by the Kaffirs. He received the repeated thanks of Sir Benjamin D’Urban, the Commander in Chief, in general orders.

In February 1822 Thomson complained of the hardship of not being permitted to participate in the Parliamentary Grant to forces employed under the late Sir Home Popham in 1812, having served as a military engineer with a naval force on shore on that service. He applied to Lord Keith who had charge of the distribution of the Parliamentary Grant, but without success. He was appointed Colonel on 1 April 1846.