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Auction: 18002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 116

Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith (2372 Pte. T. H. Kempton, 1st Rl. Innis: Fus.), nearly extremely fine

Thomas Henry Kempton was born at Coagh, Londonderry in 1868 and enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Omagh in November 1887. He served with the 1st Battalion during the Boer War, seeing action throughout the campaign to relieve Ladysmith. The Regiment would serve with distinction at the Battle of Pieter's Hill, when Kempton's Battalion were charged with what later became known as 'Inniskilling Hill' on 23 February 1900. Having made three desperate storming attacks up the hill to dislodge the dug-in Boers, the Battalion scrambled over the sparse terrain to a false crest near the summit. Moving forward into the breach, a survivor said:

'There was no enemy to see and nothing to fire at. All we had to do was to lie as close to the ground as we could, watch the bullets pitting the earth round us and wonder whose turn it would be to be hit next.'

Kempton would be one of those who was hit. The men did what they could to gain some cover, but on the craggy hill, it was next to impossible. Further attacks were beaten off as the Officers attempted to re-organise for one final charge. It was to be in vain, as the Boers could not be moved. Command of the Battalion changed hands four times in the space of 24 hours and soon after dawn the order to retreat was given. Of the original strength of 512, 60 were killed in action, 168 were wounded and 24 were missing. Lieutenant E. T. Inkson, the Medical Officer, was awarded the Victoria Cross; sold with copied research.

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