Hero soldier auctioning medals to provide ‘best opportunities’ for his children

File photo dated 28/11/07 of Royal Marine soldier Corporal John Thompson after receiving the Conspic

Royal Marine John Thompson pictured in 2007 after receiving the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross from the Queen at Buckingham Palace - Credit: PA

One of the most decorated soldiers of the modern era is to auction off his medals to pay for his children’s futures.

Sergeant Major John Thompson from Barnstaple has fought off enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been repeatedly recognised for his bravery in combat and for saving the lives of his comrades.

The Royal Marine Commando now plans to sell all seven of his medals, including a rare Afghanistan 2007 Battle of the Sluice Gate Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) – an honour one level down from a Victoria Cross.

Undated handout photo issued by Dix Noonan Webb of a photograph of Sgt Major John Thompson with US P

A photograph of Sgt Major John Thompson with US President George W Bush at a Whitehouse reception, signed by the President, with an unopened gift from the White House - Credit: PA

Auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb estimates their worth to be between £120,000 and £140,000.

The 43-year-old veteran said: “I’m a single parent of a six, eight and a 21-year-old and the money will enable me to provide the best opportunities for them as they grow up.

“Being a father is the most important role I’ve ever had, which I didn’t fully appreciate when I was running around Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’m doing this for them.

Undated handout photo issued by Dix Noonan Webb of photographs, letters and ephemera belonging to Sg

Photographs, letters and ephemera belonging to Sgt Major John Thompson, a commando with the Royal Marines and one of the most decorated soldiers of the modern era, who is selling seven of his medals to pay for his child's future - Credit: PA

“Initially when I thought about selling them I felt quite anxious but ultimately I’m quite content to sell them because I know they’ll stay in a cherished collection.

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“At the end of the day, the greatest thing for me is not the medals, it is that my children know their daddy is a hero.”

Undated handout photo issued by Dix Noonan Webb of an artist's proof watercolour painting of Gordon

An artist's proof watercolour painting of Gordon Rushmer's 'Firefight in the Helmand' additionally inscribed 'To Tomo with best wishes, Gordon Rushmer' - Credit: PA

Sgt Maj Thompson, who was born in Dunfermline, Fife, but has lived most of his life in Devon, joined the Royal Marines in 1998.

After training as a heavy weapons anti-tanks operator, he joined the 40 Commando Royal Marines and was deployed to Northern Ireland in 2000.

In 2003, he received a Mentioned in Despatches medal for exceptional gallantry after he rescued colleagues in his Delta Company who had become surrounded by enemy forces at Al Yahudia, Iraq.

He was then given the CGC after his entire company was ambushed by the Taliban in Habibollah Kalay, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, in January 2007.

Undated handout photo issued by Dix Noonan Webb of a print of Gordon Rushmore's watercolour painting

A print of Gordon Rushmore's watercolour painting of Sgt Major John Thompson entitled, 'Corporal "Tommo" Thompson RM, CGC' - Credit: PA

During the prolonged battle, when ammunition was running low, Sgt Maj Thompson stayed in the killing area and opened fire on five separate enemy points, making himself the focus of the shooting and allowing his team to dismount.

He suffered burst eardrums in the process due how close he was to the RPG and machine gun fire, but his “selfless and courageous actions” led the company to win the firefight.

Recalling the two actions, he said: “They were the greatest moments of exhilaration and extreme adrenaline that I will ever have.

“At the time you don’t think about what you’re doing you just do what needs to be done and put yourself in the hands of fate and destiny.

“When I was later stood in front of the Queen for the investiture I was just blown away in awe, so much so I didn’t hear what she said to me.

Undated handout photo issued by Dix Noonan Webb of the medals belonging to Sgt Major John Thompson (

The medals belonging to Sgt Major John Thompson (left to right) the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross awarded in 2007; General Service medal, 1962-2007 - for service in Northern Ireland; Operational Service Medal 2000 - for service in Afghanistan; Iraq medal 2003-11; Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; Accumulated Campaign Service Medal 2011; Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal - Credit: PA

“Having grown up on a council estate in Plymstock where my mum often went without food to feed me, I just never believed I could achieve so much.

“Although I would say that although I have been awarded these medals, there are so many acts of gallantry by soldiers that go unawarded every day and I’m astounded by the courage that I see every day around me.”

Pierce Noonan, chief executive of Dix Noonan Webb, said: “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.”

The medals will go on sale on Wednesday December 8, along with a host of other items including Sgt Maj Thompson’s unpublished memoir, his pocket watch, maps, photographs of tours and investitures, letters of congratulations, and dedicated watercolour paintings by the artist Gordon Rushmer.

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