LISDD:2007.H The Neil Thomson Archive
Neil Thomson was born in 1886 in Kintyre to Neil Thomson, shepherd, and Flora McLeod. After 1911, the family moved to Lismore, where Neil senior was farmer of Park & Point. He died of influenza on Christmas Day 1918 (see Object for July 2016).
Neil junior was adventurous. In 1907, he joined the Edinburgh police, leaving in 1910, aged 24, to continue his police career in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He left with an “exemplary” commendation. Returning to the UK in 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Scots Fusiliers at Oban in January 1916, serving on the Western Front until October 1918.
His actions at Passchendaele, leading his platoon “in the face of intense machine-gun fire on Westhoek Ridge, earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal but, in the same battle, he was severely wounded in both legs.
Neil lay wounded for two days before being rescued and was only one of a great number requiring treatment. Against the odds, with his right leg amputated at the knee and his left ankle shattered, he survived, eventually evacuated to hospital in Leeds, later to the Erskine Military Hospital In Glasgow. After many months of treatment including “massage and radiant heat”, he was released to return to the family home at Point, Lismore, on 16 May 1920.
The archive contains a unique and poignant collection of documents relating to his treatment and convalescence:
H5. Army Form I.1237. Medical Case sheets, 21 January -7 November 1919. 3 pages foolscap.
H6. Hospital card, 2nd Northern General Hospital, Leeds, Orthopaedic Department. 1919 (3 pieces). Metal-backed card from the hospital permitting him to be absent from his quarters and to wear khaki, 18 September 1919.
H7. DCM citation, excerpt from London Gazette 2/12/19
H8. Disabled Soldier’s Handbook, Ministry of Pensions, 1919
H9. Treatment card, Army Form W. 3555. Military Hospital, Glasgow, 1920
H10. Ministry of Pensions Certificate of pension award, 7 September 1920; Royal Hospital Chelsea Certificate of additional pension in respect of DCM, 30 September 1920
H11. Certificate of discharge from the army, 14 May 1920; Duty ration book, 14 May 1920, on leaving the Military Hospital, Glasgow
The people of Lismore presented Neil with an engraved watch to celebrate his courage.
After the war, Neil moved to Port Appin, where he was sub-postmaster, augmenting his income by shoemaking. He married Jessie MacFarlane, daughter of a former Lismore ferryman in 1927, and they lived at Sea View, Appin. They had two children, Neil and Janet. In later life he was bedridden, dying of heart disease aged 47 on 28 April 1934. There can be little doubt that his wounds ensured an early death.
CELM is grateful to Mima Ramage, Rutherglen, for supplying much of the material and information in the archive.