b. 1830 Yoxall, Staffordshire. d. 05/12/1891 Walsall, Staffordshire.
William James Thompson (1830-1891) is a recipient that sadly very little is known about. He was born in 1830 in Yoxall, Staffordshire, and we do know that he enlisted with the 60th Rifles (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) sometime in advance of the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in Meerut in 1857.
Private Thompson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Delhi on 9th July 1857 (London Gazette, 20th January 1860) when his Captain (Captain Wilson) was surrounded by a party of Ghazees, who had made a sudden attack on him from the serai. Noticing the predicament of his officer, he rushed to his aid, and killed two of the attackers, before further assistance could reach them. It was also mentioned in his citation that his conduct throughout the Siege of Lucknow was conspicuous in its gallantry. He was wounded during the Siege of Lucknow. He was elected by members of his Regiment for the award.
He was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria at Home Park, Windsor Castle on 9th November 1860. What happened to Thompson after the award of his VC is unclear. What is known is that he did eventually return to his native Staffordshire, and he settled in Walsall. He died there on 5th December 1891, aged 61, and he was buried in an unmarked grave in Queen Street Cemetery. The cemetery is now closed and Thompson’s grave location is unknown. A blue plaque has been placed near the entrance to the closed cemetery. Thompson’s medal and his Indian Mutiny Medal were owned shortly after his death by a Alexander Duncan of Penarth. The medals are now owned by the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: QUEEN STREET CEMETERY, WALSALL, STAFFORDSHIRE. (UNMARKED)
James Thompson's medals at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire (August 2012).
Queen's Street Cemetery, Walsall Plaque
Yoxall Church, Staffordshire (Richard Pursehouse)