Rank & Name: Lt. Graham Noble Thomson DFC-BAR

Date of Death: N/A


A Great War D.F.C. and Bar group of six awarded to Lieutenant G. N. Thomson, Royal Air Force, late Territorial Forces and Royal Flying Corps, an Observer in No. 59 Squadron who carried out a number of low-level operations in the summer of 1918 - so low, in fact, that his aircraft was often ‘badly shot about".

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar, the reverse privately engraved, ‘Lieut. Graham N. Thomson, R.A.F., 24th July 1918’; 1914-15 Star (Lieut. G. N. Thomson, R.S.F.), renamed; British War Medal 1914-20 (Lieut. G. N. Thomson, R.A.F.), renamed; Victory Medal 1914-19 (Lieut. G. N. Thomson, R.A.F.); Defence Medal 1939-45; Efficiency Medal, G.VI.R., 1st issue, India (Tpr. G. N. Thomson, Assam V.L.H. A.F.I.)...

D.F.C. London Gazette 2 November 1918.

The original recommendation states - For gallantry and devotion to duty when carrying out contact patrols On 20 July 1918, this officer carried out two most successful contact patrols with the N.Z. Division over Rossignol Wood and Bucquoy. Owing to ill-health he was on light duty at the time but volunteered for both patrols. His first patrol was carried out in a very heavy thunderstorm and owing to weather conditions he was flying at under 1,000 feet the whole time. During the patrol he silenced an enemy machine-gun which was firing from Bucquoy Two hours later he carried out the second patrol at under 800 feet and was compelled, owing to bad visibility, to draw enemy machine-gun fire in order to locate their position, and his machine was badly shot up.

The information he gained was of great value and accurate in every detail. He has previously done some very fine work with his squadron, especially during the March offensive and by his exceptional gallantry, keenness and devotion to duty has set an excellent example to the officers in his squadron. Recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross Bar to D.F.C. London Gazette 2 November 1918. The original recommendation states: For skill and gallantry.

On 22 August 1918, this officer carried out a special contact patrol from a height of 200 to 400 feet. He was throughout subjected to very heavy fire from the ground, and his machine was very badly shot about. He showed great daring during a heavy counter-attack on Logeast Wood and, flying at a height of 100 feet, he shot up the advancing troops and rendered great assistance in bringing this attack to a standstill and causing very high casualties. He then continued his patrol along the whole Corps front. Reports brought back by this Observer have been of the greatest value and most accurate. Throughout the recent operations he has set a very good example of courage and devotion to duty to the whole squadron. Recommended for the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cros.

Graham Noble Thomson was born in Edinburgh in January 1896 and was resident at Corstorphine at the time of his joining the R.A.M.C. (Territorial Force) in May 1913, in which corps he was appointed a Private in the 3rd Lowland Field Ambulance at St. Ninians, Stirling. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers in May 1915, he was posted to the 5th Battalion in Egypt early in the following year, and was wounded by a ‘severe gunshot in the head’ on the Sinai Peninsula, Palestine. Evacuated to Port Said, and thence to 19th General Hospital in Alexandria, he underwent two operations before being embarked for the U.K. in August 1916. Having then been granted leave, Thomson took up an appointment in the 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry at Fort George but, in January 1917, was ordered to join the 1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, in Salonika - due, however, to the effects of the climate on his old head wound, he was invalided home that October

Next transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, he attended training courses at Winchester, Netheravon and New Romney, and qualified as an Observer, and in early March 1918 was posted to No. 59 Squadron, an Army Co-operation unit operating out of airfields in France in R.E. 8s. Thus ensued a flurry of operational activity, Thomson eventually teaming-up with an Old Etonian, Captain L. M. Woodhouse, M.C., as his pilot. As evidenced by 59 Squadron’s Record Book, daily patrols of the low-level variety were very much the order of the day and, in addition to the above cited occasions on which Thomson returned to base in badly shot up aircraft, at least one other hair-raising sortie is recorded for posterity’s sake - namely that flown on 24 September, when his R.E. 8 was seriously damaged by ground fire during a mission to the Irles-Miraumont railway. Moreover, it is possible he was Woodhouse’s Observer on an earlier occasion, on 1 September, when a direct hit by A.A. fire damaged the upper and lower right hand planes, necessitating the Observer to lean out of the fuselage, Lewis gun in hands, to help stabilise the aircraft during its epic flight back to base. Indeed 59’s Record Book bears testimony to Thomson’s ongoing part in the Squadron’s operational activities right through until the end of September, a period that witnessed him pitched in air-to-air combat on two or three occasions. Luckily, however, he was not flying with Woodhouse on the 27th, on which date his R.E. 8 was sent down in flames after a combat over Grevillers. Transferred to the Unemployed List in October 1919, Thomson received his D.F.C. & Bar from Prince Arthur of Connaught at an investiture held at Holyrood Palace in the following month.

Settling in India in 1920, where he was employed as an Assistant - and later as a Manager - by the Consolidated Tea & Lands Co., Thomson also served as a Trooper in the Assam Valley Light Horse, Auxiliary Forces of India, and was awarded the Efficiency Medal (I.A.O. 7/AP of 15 February 1944 refers). And it may well have been as a result of his varied tea plantation postings in the same period that he lost his original British War Medal, although for the record it should be noted that he was not in fact entitled to a 1914-15 Star.

Sold with several Great War period documents, including a copy of Major-General J. M. Salmond’s Routine Orders, dated 16 September 1918, announcing the award of the recipient’s second D.F.C.; a copy message from the 2nd N.Z. Infantry Brigade, citing ‘the good work’ done by the recipient during his D.F.C.-winning patrol over Rossignol in July 1918; and a letter from the D.A.A.G., Scottish Command, requesting his attendance at an investiture at Holyrood Palace on 4 December 1919; together with a file of related research. source


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