The outstanding and excessively rare Afghanistan 2007 ‘Battle of the Sluice Gate’ Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (C.G.C)., ‘Iraq 2003’ Mentioned in Despatches (M.I.D.) double gallantry group of seven awarded to Warrant Officer Class II J. T. ‘Tommo’ Thompson, 42 Commando, late 40 Commando, Royal Marines sold for a auction record price of £150,000 (hammer price) by Dix Noonan Webb in their auction of Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. It was bought by a private collector of British gallantry awards.
As Christopher Mellor-Hill, Associate Director and Head of Client Liaison, Dix Noonan Webb, commented: “Tommo’s amazing CGC gallantry group is markedly different from most of the others in that not only was he awarded the CGC for gallantry in Afghanistan but he had been previously awarded the MID gallantry award of a Silver Oak Leaf on his Iraq medal for being Mentioned in Despatches. This makes him one of only a handful of men to have been decorated twice for gallantry in Iraq and Afghanistan and shows that this bravery was in his character as well as a reflection and credit upon on his fellow Royal Marines in those actions and this has been reflected in it making this a record auction price for a CGC group of medals.”
Thompson was born in Dunfermline, Scotland (His parents were both in the Navy and based there) and has lived most of his life in Devon (Plymouth, Tavistock, Exmouth and latterly Barnstaple since 2016). He was awarded the C.G.C. for his display of utterly selfless bravery which led to the defeat of an overwhelming number of Taliban during an ambush and intense prolonged firefight at Habibollah Kalay, Helmand on 10 January 2007; he had previously been Mentioned in Despatches for exceptional gallantry at the rescue of his Delta Company colleagues who had become surrounded during a lethal engagement with Fedayeen forces at Al Yahudia, Iraq, 2003.
On 10 January 2007, his entire company having been ambushed and pinned down under an overwhelming weight of fire deep in Taliban territory, Thompson displayed conspicuous gallantry, immediately engaging five separate enemy firing points with suppressive fire, thus allowing the company to dismount whilst he himself became the focus of withering and accurate fire. Suffering burst eardrums from the proximity of RPG and machine gun fire, and with his vehicle hit by numerous enemy rounds, he continued to engage the enemy despite the personal dangers - ‘Running low on ammunition following prolonged engagements, Thompson realized that many colleagues were still dangerously exposed. Without any regard whatsoever for his own safety, he remained in the killing area, engaging the enemy at a range of only 50 meters. His utterly selfless and courageous actions allowed the company to win the firefight.’
Mr Thompson, joined the Royal Marines in 1998 and completed basic training in October 1999. Having undertaken specialist training as a Heavy Weapons Anti Tanks operator he joined 40 Commando Royal Marines and deployed to Northern Ireland in 2000. He said that he was selling the medals because: “As a single parent, the money will enable me to provide the best opportunities for my children as they grow up.”
Taken from Thompson’s personal memoir: “I turned to my driver and whispered, “It’s going to kick off”. At that very instant an RPG exploded in the air in front of us. Machine gun fire erupted from the shadows and engulfed the two WMIKs that led the patrol. Seeing muzzle flashes of enemy weapons, I established a target and fired 200 rounds immediately at the Taliban gunman, then both WMIKs trained their Heavy Machine Guns and Grenade Machine Guns onto the firing points and opened up. The space between our position and the Taliban’s is filled with tracer, birds fall out of the sky as they are cut down from the hail of steel projectiles. This is truly dead man’s land...All the while the dirt road is being ripped up by enemy bullets, the air is exploding with RPGs detonating as air bursts. Taliban 82mm mortar bombs are landing sending huge piles of soil, smoke, and high explosives into the air. If one finds its mark it will kill an entire team. We are surrounded on 3 sides, pinned to our attacking position...I turn to my crew, and tell them that I must get ammo. I jump out of the vehicle and snag myself. I am still attached to the vehicle radio net, so I unclip, and start to run back to the company. This kit and armor are almost double the weight of that I had in Iraq, so it is slow going. I look forward and focus on getting to the company. The ground splashed with dust like a puddle in torrential rain, as the Taliban attempted to bring me down, I didn’t notice it at the time, but was told after by my crew.”
The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross was instituted as a result of the 1993 review of the British honors system and is second in seniority only to the Victoria Cross. The C.G.C. was awarded for the first time as a result of the Bosnian War in 1995 and to date 61 such awards have been made.
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