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 Feyadeen 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 realised 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 metres. His utterly selfless and courageous actions allowed the company to win the firefight.’
Mr Thompson, who 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 is 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.”
As Pierce Noonan, CEO Dix Noonan Webb, commented: “Thompson is one of a very small band of soldiers of the modern era to have been formally recognised on more than one occasion for exceptional gallantry. During the course of his career he repeatedly placed himself in the thick of the action, bringing the fight to the enemy and saving the lives of his comrades on more than one occasion. John Thompson is the epitome of a Royal Marine Commando and his awards tell the story of his consistent and selfless bravery.”
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 armour 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 honours 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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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dix Noonan Webb – a brief history
In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000, however 30 years later, DNW is established as the premier medal auctioneer worldwide. Two years later, in 1993, it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens. In 2015 DNW added jewellery to its sales calendar as well as setting up a stand alone banknotes department and expanding into premises next door. In 2020 DNW achieved a total hammer price of £14,256,060 and the total number of lots sold across all departments was 24,400. To date the company has sold in excess of 350,000 lots totalling over £200 million.
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Rachel Aked - Tel: 07790732448/ Email: Rachel@rachelaked.co.uk