11 December 2014

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Watson,
4th Coy, Bengal Sappers & Miners

  • Victoria Cross
  • India Medal ( 1895-1902 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Punjab Frontier 1897-98"
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • Delhi Durbar Medal ( 1911 )

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Watson, Royal Engineers, attached Bengal Sappers & Miners, have been sold at a Dix Noonan Webb auction on the 11th December 2014. ( The estimated sale price was between £150,000 and £180,000 ). The VC group realised a sale hammer price of £260,000.

The Thomas Watson VC group was purchased by the Lord Ashcroft VC Collection. The VC group will go on display in the Imperial War Museum's Lord Ashcroft Gallery.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 20 May 1898 ], Mohmand Campaign, North West Frontier, 16 September 1897, Lieutenant Thomas Colclough Watson, 4th Coy, Bengal Sappers & Miners.

This Officer, on the 16th September 1897, at the village of Bilot, in the Mamund Valley, collected a few men of the Buffs ( East Kent Regiment ) and of No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, and led them into the dark and burning village to dislodge some of the enemy who were inflicting loss on our troops. After being wounded and driven back, he made a second attempt to clear the village, and only desisted after a second repulse and being again hit and severely wounded.

Thomas Watson was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 23rd June 1898.

Lieutenant Colonel Watson was serving with the 12th Indian Division in Mesopotamia in February 1915 but was invalided to England in June 1915. Watson died, aged 50, in London on the 15th June 1917 and was cremated in the Golders Green Crematorium, North London.

Thomas Watson's wife was awarded the prestigious Royal Red Cross for service during the Black Mountain Expedition of 1888 in the North West Frontier of India.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 21 April 1899 ], Mohmand Campaign, North West Frontier, 16 September 1897, Corporal James Smith, The Buffs ( East Kent Regiment ).

On the night of the 16th - 17th September 1897, Corporal Smith, with a party of the Buffs, responded to Lieutenant Watson’s call for volunteers, and followed that Officer into the burning village of Bilot, driving off the enemy with the bayonet. Afterwards, although wounded, he continued firing steadily and coolly, and also helped to carry the wounded to the place prepared for them. When Lieutenant Watson left, in order to fetch assistance for the wounded, Corporal Smith held the position till that Officer’s return, exposing his life freely in watching the enemy and directing the fire of his men.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 20 May 1898 ], Mohmand Campaign, North West Frontier, 16 September 1897, Lieutenant James Morris Colvin, 4th Coy, Bengal Sappers & Miners.

On the same occasion, after Lieutenant Watson had been incapacitated by his wounds from further effort, Lieutenant Colvin continued the fight and persisted in two more attempts to clear the enemy out of the dark and still burning village. He was conspicuous during the whole night for his devotion to his men in the most exposed positions under a heavy fire from the enemy..


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Iain Stewart, 11 December 2014