Military General Service Medal 1848, bar Corunna, Bolton Restern, Royal Artillery, a long serving gunner of the distinguished Colonel Truscott’s No 3 Battery, famed for Corunna.
Officially impressed: “B. Restern, R. Arty.”
Some slight edge bruising and very slight slackness to suspension from wear in his old age, an attractive example.
Born as Bolton Ritson, circa 1778 in either Cockermouth, Cumberland as he says in his Service Papers or in Durham at the time of his birth.
He was a particularly long serving member of the British Army at the time of the Peninsular Wars, already 15 years into service by Corunna in 1809, having joined up about 16 years old back in 1794.
Bolton Ritson, Ritson being an ancient Cumberland or Northumberland name, or Reston/Restern, which he served as, was a Gunner in Captain Truscotts Company of Artillery, the 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Artillery.
The battalion is still in existence and still proudly sports the Battle Honour of Corunna as the 3/29th (Corunna) Battery, 4th Regiment of Royal Artillery or the “Fighting Fourth”.
A brief resume of their history at Corunna is recounted in the 2017 book by Tom Martin, Falklands Gunner, published by Pen and Sword, he had served with 29 Corunna Field Battery during the Falklands War, Tom recalls that as the most junior officer of the battery, it was his responsibility to recite the Battery History on the anniversary of the battle wherever they were at the time, he copied it on the back of his note book which reads:
“The Battery was originally formed as Hislop’s Company in 1755. After being stationed in Canterbury in 1802 the company landed at Corunna in 1808, under Truscott’s Command (1805-1814), and joined the army advancing towards Salamanca.
Napoleon’s victories forced the army into withdrawal during which the Company formed part of the Rear Guard.
Sir John Moore brought this army to Corunna and on the evening of 14th January began the embarkation onto the waiting transport ships.
The next day the French pushed back the rear guard and occupied the heights overlooking the British positions. Throughout the 15th the sick and wounded, along with most of the cavalry and all but a few of the artillery pieces, were embarked without interference by the French.
On the 16th the French attacked and met with some success, however the British infantry, with Truscott’s guns in support, held firm and began to outflank the French. The latter, finding themselves under fire from both the front and the flank, started to withdraw, but the retreat soon turned into a rout. During the battle, Sir John Moore was killed. No pursuit was attempted and during the night and the following morning the remainder of the exhausted British Army was embarked.
For this action as well as heroic efforts during the retreat, the descendants of the Company were, in 1936, allowed to assume the Battle Honour of ‘Corunna’.”
Having served in many different capacities and over 200 years later, the “Corunna” Battery still survives and still holds an annual celebration on “Corunna Day”.
According to his service records, he was discharged from the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Woolwich on 30th November 1813, signed off by Colonel Cmdt John Ramsay.
“Bolton Ritson, Gunner, in Captain Truscotts Company has served Faithfully and Honestly for the space of Nineteen years and Seven months in the above said regiment, but being judged unfit for further service by a medical inspection having rheumatism, and being place on the pension list at one Shilling per diem.”
“The description of the said Bolton Reston is as follows: He is aged 37 years, 5 feet 10 inches high – Born in the Parish of Cockermouth and County of Cumberland, is of a Dark complexion, Brown Hair and Brown Eyes, by trade a Weaver.”
On 7th January 1802 in Workington, Cumberland he married Isabella Skelton. The Cumberland Parish Marriages record he was a serving Gunner in the Royal Artillery at the time, Isabella was a local girl from Cumberland.
Shown on the 1851 Census, as born during 1778 aged 73, an Artillery Pensioner Chelsea born in Durham.
Living at Cocker Lane in Cockermouth, Cumberland.
Carlisle Journal 13th July 1849 recalls his award of the new medal:
On the 1st June 1847, a general order was issued from the Horse Guards, directing claims to be sent in by the veterans who served in the wars ending in the year 1814…
…The following list comprises the names of all the pensioners whose claims have been sanctioned and the battles in which they have been engaged:-
…Botlon Restern, Cockermouth, Artillery, Corunna.”
Carlisle Journal, 1st September 1854, reports his death:
“DEATHS, At Cockermouth, on the 29th ult., Bolton Ritson, Pensioner, aged 81 years.”