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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 244

A rare Tel-El-Kebir casualty's Egypt and Sudan Medal awarded to Paymaster Sergeant J. Thompson, Gordon Highlanders, whose eventful career was later marred by disgrace when he was charged with embezzlement

Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, 4 clasps, Tel-El-Kebir, Suakin 1884, El-Teb_Tamaai, The Nile 1884-85 (1835. Lce. Corpl. J. Thompson. 1/Gord: Highrs:), pitting and edge bruising, nearly very fine

Bonhams December 2002.

Note one of 40 casualties from the Regiment at Tel-el-Kebir.

John Thompson was born at Honduras, West Indies in 1859 and attested for the 75th Foot (Gordon Highlanders) at Liverpool on 25 September 1879.


Posted with this unit to Egypt he arrived on 2 August 1882 as part of General Allison's Highland Brigade. They were not part of the force which attempted to push through directly to Cairo at Kafr-el-Dawwar instead being part of the main army which advanced up the Sweet Water Canal towards Tel-El-Kebir.

The Highland Brigade was at the front of the Second Division and the Gordons found themselves at the centre. The British attacked early in the morning of 13 September after a night march through the desert. They achieved total surprise and stormed the Egyptian positions frontally at the point of a bayonet. Despite the surprise their opponents were still well trained and equipped and the British did not have everything their own way with 339 casualties of which 243 were from the Highland Brigade. Thompson was one of those injured, with the casualty role listing a gunshot wound in his right forearm.

The Sudan

Invalided back to Britain after the action he was able to recover and was promoted Corporal the next year on 7 April. Returning to Egypt with General Graham's expedition Thompson arrived in Sudan on 18 February 1884. He was present with his Battalion for the two major actions at El Teb and Tamaai, in February and March of that year. During the first action the Battalion was on the face of the British square which received the initial Mahdist charge.

At Tamaai the Battalion was stationed in the Brigade square commanded by General Buller. The other square, commanded by General Davis, was broken during the Mahdist attack with fierce hand-to-hand fighting ensuring. Buller's Brigade came up in time to drive the Mahdists back to accurate fire and General Graham reformed the broken square. Thompson must have performed well in the battle as he was promoted Sergeant not long afterwards on 8 July.

The Regiment, including Thompson, later joined General Wolseley's Nile Expedition in November 1884. However tragically they were unable to reach the city of Khartoum before it fell to the Mahdi's army. Posted to Ceylon in 1888 Thompson was later transferred to the 3rd Battalion and promoted Paymaster Sergeant in 1891. Despite his thus far honourable career he was found guilty of embezzlement on 26 October 1893, being reduced to Private.

South Africa

However, this disgrace was not the end of his career, returning to the 1st Battalion in 1898 he was posted to South Africa in November 1899, seeing action at Paardeburg. Returning to Britain on 15 September 1901, he served until 4 October 1907; sold together with copied research including service papers, medal roll and casualty list.

Further entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal.

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