One of the most decorated soldiers of the modern era has sold his medals for £150,000.
Sergeant Major John Thompson, 43, has fought off enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been repeatedly recognised for his bravery in combat and for saving the lives of his comrades.
He put his medals, including a rare Afghanistan 2007 Battle of the Sluice Gate Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC), up for sale and they fetched a record price at London-based Dix Noonan Webb when they were snapped up by a private collector.
The Royal Marine Commando, who now lives in Barnstaple, said: “I’m a single parent of a six, eight and a 21-year-old and the money will enable me to provide the best opportunities for them as they grow up.
“Initially when I thought about selling them I felt quite anxious but ultimately I’m quite content to sell them because I know they’ll stay in a cherished collection.
“At the end of the day, the greatest thing for me is not the medals, it is that my children know their daddy is a hero.”
Sgt Maj Thompson, who was born in Dunfermline, Fife, but has lived most of his life in Devon, joined the Royal Marines in 1998.
In 2003, he received a Mentioned in Despatches medal for exceptional gallantry after he rescued colleagues in his Delta Company who had become surrounded by enemy forces at Al Yahudia, Iraq.
He was then given the CGC after his entire company was ambushed by the Taliban in Habibollah Kalay, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, in January 2007.
During the prolonged battle, when ammunition was running low, Sgt Maj Thompson stayed in the killing area and opened fire on five separate enemy points, making himself the focus of the shooting and allowing his team to dismount.
He suffered burst eardrums in the process due how close he was to the RPG and machine gun fire, but his “selfless and courageous actions” led the company to win the firefight.
“This makes him one of only a handful of men to have been decorated twice for gallantry in Iraq and Afghanistan and shows that this bravery was in his character as well as a reflection and credit upon on his fellow Royal Marines in those actions and this has been reflected in it making this a record auction price for a CGC group of medals.”