The Collection of Medals to Welsh Regiments formed by the Late Llewellyn Lord

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Date of Auction: 27th September 2016

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £3,600 - £4,000

The Peninsula War medal awarded to Drum Major Thomas Watts, 43rd Foot, who volunteered and formed one of the Storming Party at Badajoz and at St Sebastian, being wounded on both occasions, and was afterwards wounded in the eye at New Orleans

Military General Service
1793-1814, 10 clasps, Busaco, Fuentes D’Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Toulouse (T. Watts, Drum Major, 43rd Foot) small edge bruise and a few surface marks, otherwise very fine £3600-4000

Footnote

Only six Drum Majors shown on the medal roll.

Thomas Watts was born in the Parish of Leominster, Herefordshire, and enlisted for the 43rd Foot at Monmouth on 25 December 1800. He was ‘under age’ for five years but afterwards served as a Private for 2 years 6 months; Bugler, 9 years 9 months; Corporal, 11 months, and Sergeant, 15 years 3 months. He was discharged at Devonport on 17 June 1829, in consequence of chronic rheumatism and the effects of wounds.

His discharge papers note ‘That his general Conduct as a Soldier has been
Good. Served at the Capture of Copenhagen in the year 1807, and was present with the 43rd in every siege and action throughout its service in the Peninsula. Volunteered and formed one of the Storming Party at Badajoz and St Sebastian, at the former place was Wounded by a Musquet Shot in left thigh (ball still in) at the latter in the Right Knee. Served in the Expedition to New Orleans where he was slightly wounded in Left Eye:- Was present at the Capture of Paris in 1815 and Served under Sir W. Clinton in Portugal in 1827 & 8 and he is most strongly recommended for Pension.’

The Surgeon’s Report, dated 5 August 1829, states: ‘Received a gunshot wound at Badajoz in left thigh and at St Sebastian was again wounded below right knee, is slightly lame from the former. Has been affected for a considerable time with rheumatism of right arm and shoulder which he declares himself almost incapable of using, has been frequently under medical treatment without benefit. Was sent from Gibraltar to Chatham in a state of insanity in the month of June last and joined the Depot of the 43rd Regt in August. Was admitted into Military Hospital 21st September, being affected with severe headache and giddiness, was discharged on 25th of same month but since that period has not done any military duty being from his length of service and the above mentioned complaints incapable of performing it.’

It would have been unusual for a musician to volunteer, and if so, be allowed to take place in the storming party. The March/June 1812 muster records him as Drummer/Fifer, and Corporal by September/December of that year. By March/June of the following year he had been promoted to Drum Major as a Sergeant, and he continued in that rank until the 1820s when he is recorded as Colour-Sergeant. The timing of his rapid rise through the ranks coincides with the three major sieges of the war, promotion at that time being the only official means of recognising and rewarding distinguished conduct. He was discharged in the rank of Private, quite probably having been reduced on account of his debilities and inability to perform his military duties. Thomas Watts died at Orleton, near Leominster, on 16 July 1867, aged 78. Sold with copied discharge papers.