Diamond War Memorial Project

Sergeant Robert James Burgess Thompson

‘A’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Regimental Number 16053
Born: ---- Died: 1916-07-01 Aged: 35 Enlisted: Londonderry.

Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on Glendermott Parish Church World War 1 Memorial, and listed on the Diamond War Memorial.

Son of George Richard and Elizabeth (nee Foster, who died on June 13, 1917, and was interred in Killea Burying Ground) Thompson, Gobnascale / 35, Strand Road, Londonderry. Husband of Sarah Ballantine Adair (formerly Thompson), of The Trench, Londonderry.

An Ulster Division certificate was awarded to Sergeant Robert James Burgess Thompson, who, on July 1, 1916, in the Thiepval sector showed conspicuous gallantry in leading and reorganising his platoon, and consolidating the captured ‘C’ line against a German counter-attack. Although not detailed for the 1st July attack, Sergeant Robert James Burgess Thompson volunteered. He was afterwards reported missing, and subsequently dead.
Robert James Burgess Thompson was the son of Mr George Richard Thompson, who died on December 24, 1935, in his 84th year. George Richard Thompson was a native of Queen’s County (Laoighis or Leix). He entered the Londonderry Post Office as a telegraphist in 1872, and retired with the rank of superintendent in 1917. He produced a family of eighteen children – six daughters and twelve sons. Eight of those sons would serve with the forces in the Great War – a record in Londonderry. Three were killed and two others seriously wounded. Apart from Robert James Burgess, the other two brothers to die were Corporal Frederick William Palmer Thompson, who was killed on January 27, 1917, and Lieutenant William John Thompson, who died on March 26, 1918.
Robert James Burgess Thompson was not the only member of his family to receive an Ulster Division certificate for conspicuous gallantry in the Thiepval sector on July 1, 1916. A similar award went to his brother, Richard Gale Thompson, for displaying great bravery in bombing the enemy in the German ‘B’ line, and rescuing a wounded officer under heavy fire. Richard Gale Thompson emerged from the July advance without a scratch, but was wounded the following month, and spent eight months in hospital.
Another brother of Robert James Burgess Thompson, Private Samuel Foster Thompson, 3rd Toronto Regiment, Canadian Contingent, was wounded in France in March 1916, and fought at Vimy Ridge. Around September 1917, Samuel was again wounded in France, the amputation of the right leg below the knee being necessary. The operation could not have been attempted but for the action of a comrade in the Canadians, who allowed a pint of blood to be taken from him by transfusion.
The remaining brothers of Robert James Burgess Thompson, who served in the Great War, were Lance Corporal Lancelot Fitzgerald Thompson, who joined the 17th Lancers, and was transferred to the 3rd Inniskillings Signalling Section; Quartermaster Sergeant Thomas B. Thompson, Royal Engineers, who served throughout the Dardanelles campaign, in Egypt, and went with the relief expedition to Kut-el-Amara, a town of Iraq (Mesopotamia). He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Meritorious Service Medal; and M. W. Thompson, who volunteered as a wireless operator under the R.N.V.R.
A brother who did not serve in the Great War, but played a role in the political life of Londonderry for many years, was Dealtry Palmer Thompson, who entered the service of the Derry Standard as an apprentice in June 1893. When J.C. Glendinning, the former proprietor of the Derry Standard, retired in 1932 and subsequently the firm became a limited company, Dealtry Thompson was appointed one of the Life Directors, and Company Secretary. Later he became Manager of the Printing Department, and, in 1951, Chairman of the Company.
From an early age he took a deep interest in the Typographical Association, of which for more than thirty years he was Londonderry Branch Secretary. His service for the Association was recognised and for a long time he was a member of the Executive Council of the Association.
A former member of the Corporation, D. P. Thompson served for two terms, first as Councillor and then as an Alderman, representing the Waterside Ward. He was Chairman of the Corporation Electricity Committee, but he had to decline re-nomination owing to pressure of business and other duties.
As a tribute to his devoted interest in the firm’s affairs, the members of the staff of the Derry Standard joined in a presentation to him on the occasion of the completion of his Golden Jubilee year of service (1943) with the Derry Standard, and in another tribute when in 1953 he attained the record of sixty years service with the Derry Standard.
Dealtry Thompson’s wife was formerly Miss Jane Gurney (died on March 13, 1965), of County Donegal. He was a devoted member of Claremont Mission Church in the Christ Church parochial area, and died on Wednesday, January 5, 1955.