NAVAL GENERAL SERVICE 1793-1840, 1 CLASP, SYRIA ‘THOMAS CAMPBELL, BOATSWAIN.’; ST. JEAN D’ACRE 1840, SILVER, UNNAMED, PIERCED WITH SMALL RING AND SILVER BAR SUSPENSION
Thomas Campbell had a very long service in the Royal Navy, joining as a Boy in 1807 and serving in the Napoleonic Wars. He would attain the heady heights of Boatswain in 1826 and serve for a further twenty years, before finally leaving the Navy in 1846.
During his service, Campbell would serve on 18 ships during his twenty nine year service. Initially joining Dromedary in March 1807 as a Boy (he was 13 years old), his service did not get off to a good start as in August he is noted a ‘Run’. In December 1807 he joined the 38 gun frigate Amelia in December 1807 and saw a fair bit of action in the Channel and the coast of Spain. He is again noted as ‘Run’ in July 1811, however after joining Whiting in January 1813, he never looked back. During his service in Whiting, a 12 gun schooner, he took part in various captures until joining Fly in August 1815 and from then until November 1826; 38 gun frigate Phaeton, Warspite, Boadicea, and Hind, when he was promoted to Boatswain. He further served in Success, Southampton, Dublin, Victory, Edinburgh, Victory again, Formidable, Queen, Formidable and finally Ocean and was paid off on 5th January 1846
Between 22nd July 1838 and 14th July 1841,Thomas Campbell was Boatswain of the 74 gun HMS Edinburgh during which service he took part in the Syria operations off Beyrout from August until October 1840 and bombardment of St. Jean d’Acre on 3rd November.
Thomas Campbell was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 1840, p 536) for his part in a daring operation to blow up a bridge connected to a castle on 2nd October 1840. Boats were sent from HMS Edinburgh and Hastings with the purposes of allowing Commanders Worth and Hastings, along with Mr Campbell, Boatwain, to plant powder in the walls of the castle. This was achieved under heavy fire;
‘The entrance of the castle was effected through a small hole to the east side of it, at some height, exposed to a galling fire of musketry from the walls of the eastern castle; but such was the coolness and gallantry displayed by Commanders Hastings and Worth, assisted by Mr. Campbell, boatswain of this ship, that every obstacle was overcome.’
The Boatswain/Bosun, was one of the three Standing Officers on board ship, made a Warrant Officer rather than Commissioned. They would have been a highly experienced seaman and in many ways would be comparable to a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Army. When a ship was out of Commission, the Boatswain, along with the other Standing Officers; the Gunner and Carpenter, were the only men attached to their ship. During Campbell’s service he was Boatswain to many of the largest ships in the Navy, including HMS Victory, as such he must have been very well thought of.
Condition NEF, lovely pair of medals to a sailor with an excellent service and with one of the scarcest ranks to be impressed on a NGS medal.