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NGS Egypt to Commander James Lamont RN, wounded in action & POW

Item Reference: GM48696

NGS Egypt to Commander James Lamont RN, wounded in action & POW

NAVAL GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL, 1793-1840,single clasp, Egypt (J. Lamont, Midshipman.); officially impressed.

Attractive light tone, tiny obverse edge bruise at 3 o’clock and some light hairline marks, otherwise good very fine.

ex John Hayward, June 1971, sold for £50. McPhail Massie Collection, Glendining, January, 1906.

James Lamont was born on the 19th of July, 1786 at Knockdow, Inverchoalain, Argyll. A scion of Clan Lamont, he was the 3rd son (of fifteen children) of James Lamont, Laird and Baronet of Knockdow, and as such a military career in the Royal Navy to ‘make one’s own way in the world’ was very much typical at the time for sons who were unlikely to inherit the family estate. James Lamont entered the navy on the 28th of December, 1798 at the very young age of 12, as a First Class Volunteer aboard HMS Repulse (64), lying at Portsmouth, and in 1799 joined HMS Queen Charlotte (100). Later that year he joined HMS Charon (44), and was present aboard this ship under the command of Captain John McKellar where upon its return from the Mediterranean he assisted in the evacuation of British forces from Helder after the Anglo-Russian invasion of that year.

He was promoted to the rank of Midshipman in January 1800, then only 14, and joined HMS Hebe. Under the command of Captains William Birchall and George Reynolds, he was present aboard this vessel during the expedition to Egypt in 1801. Following this he spent two years aboard HMS Clyde (38) flag ship of John Borlase Warren, serving in the North Sea. Promoted to Master’s Mate, he spent a year aboard Mediator and Renomée under Sir Thomas Livingstone on the Channel Station. In August 1805 he was appointed Sub-Lieutenant of the Staunch Gun-Brig under Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Street, and on the 16th of October he was confirmed as full Lieutenant of the Moselle (18) under Captains John Surman Carden and Alexander Gordon. This vessel was sent to the Mediterranean and later to the West Indies.

It was during this time whilst serving in the Caribbean that Lieutenant James Lamont was ‘very severely wounded’ whilst boarding an enemy vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, being shot through the lungs. Research suggests that he and Captain Alexander Gordon led a boarding party aboard what must have been a Spanish vessel, where James Lamont was shot through the lungs and taken POW with Captain Gordon (also wounded) and a number of other crew members. There is no record of the Moselle itself being taken, but both Lamont and Gordon were subsequently taken ‘POW Veracruz’ as noted in the ship’s description book, and were subsequently invalided to Jamaica upon payment of a ransom to the Spanish authorities. Oddly, these events appear to have been erased from history and no mention is made in any official records of the time other than the brief notes above, presumably to conceal the ‘loss of face’ of officers in the Royal Navy. Despite the true severity of this injury and the dangerous tropical conditions there, Lieutenant Lamont managed to survive, and was granted a gratuity of £80/11s/6d, and was obliged to invalid in June of that year, accepting the retired rank of Retired Commander.

He lived for a time in Edinburgh before moving to a more permanent home in London. He died on the 31st of December, 1853, at the age of 68, and was buried in All Souls’ Cemetery, Kensal Green. His abode was listed as ‘The London Coffee House, Ludgate Hill (this location, next to St Martin’s, Ludgate, was a place of celebrity and discussion of its day). An obituary placed in the London Standard on Tuesday 3rd of January, 1854, summarises the above service details, with the following added: “This good old highly respected officer will be very much missed, as well by a large circle of friends as by numerous naval and Scottish charities, to which he liberally subscribed…Although a great sufferer for 20 years in consequence, he nevertheless sought, but could not procure, further employment, and, therefore accepted his retired rank in April 1838.

The short career of this officer was a great loss to the service, for Lieut. Lamont was an officer of such amiable bearing and so mild a character that in those days of excessive cruelty he always contrived to have a happy and contented ship’s company, and, without any resort to flogging, and efficient man of war”.

Sold with a quantity of detailed research.