- Second World War (1939-1945)
- The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Infantry Division (The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Infantry Division)
During the latter part of December 1943, 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade was engaged in a bitter house-to-house struggle for the important town of Ortona (Map Reference 3316). By 23 December, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment had captured the southeast part of the town up to the line 335172-332168 and at 1200 hours on that day the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were ordered to put in an attack on the left of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment with a view to protecting their flank.
By dusk the line 332169-328169 had been reached but on the morning of 24 December the enemy launched a powerful and determined counter-attack from the northwest against their position. This attack, if it had succeeded would have seriously threatened the left flank of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and would have jeopardized the control they had established of the coast road and the important exits from the town.
Major (the Acting Lieutenant-Colonel) Thomson, who had assumed command of the regiment when the Commanding Officer was wounded some days previously, immediately appreciated the danger and in the bitter and confused street fighting that followed, ensured by his personal efforts the failure of the counter-attack. Although constantly exposed to sniping and to machine gun, mortar and shell fire, he remained with the most forward elements of his battalion personally directing and co-ordinating the defence, consolidating gains and encouraging his men in this critical and bitter struggle.
By late afternoon the counter-attack had been repelled and its failure spelled the last enemy attempt to regain control of the town. Thereafter the advance was resumed and culminated in the final capture of Ortona. It was not only Major Thomson's tactical skill and fighting spirit but also the inspiring example set by his cheerfulness under heavy fire and cool disdain of danger that ensured it failure. I strongly recommend that he be awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 April, 1944.