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Lodewijk Thomson
First lieutenant Thomson in 1910
Birth name Lodewijk Willem Johan Karel Thomson
Born (1869-06-11)June 11, 1869
Died June 15, 1914(1914-06-15) (aged 45)
Place of birth Voorschoten, Netherlands
Place of death Durrës, Albania
Allegiance Royal Netherlands Army
Years of service 1884 - 1914
Rank Major

Lodewijk Willem Johan Karel Thomson (Voorschoten, Netherlands, June 11, 1869 - Durrës, Albania, June 15, 1914) was a Dutch military commander and politician. He served as a member of the Dutch parliament between 1905 and 1913. In 1914 he became the commander of a newly created International Gendarmerie force in the Principality of Albania. He was killed during fighting in the town of Durrës on 15 June 1914, becoming the first Dutch soldier to be killed during a peacekeeping mission.

Early life and military career[]

Lodewijk Thomson was born in Voorschoten, Netherlands on June 11, 1869. His father was navy medical officer of British origin, while his mother a member of the noble Pompe van Meerdervoort family. After studying at a Hogere burgerschool in Rotterdam he joined the army in 1884 and studied at the Royal Military Academy in Breda, holding the rank of a Second Lieutenant of the infantry. From 1891 he joined a reconnaissance unit and studied cartography. Between 1894 and 1896 he served in the Dutch colonial forces and took part in the Aceh War, where he was awarded the grade of a Knight 4th class of the Military William Order. In the following years he published various articles on matters of cartography in military journal. Between 1899 and 1900 he served as a military attaché in South Africa. In 1903, back in the Netherlands, he was given command of the military administration of railways around The Hague during a rail workers' strike. This earned him another decoration, the Order of Orange-Nassau, and promotion to the rank of captain.[1]

Political career[]

In the general elections of 1905 Thomson was elected as a member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament for the constituency of Leeuwarden on a Liberal Union ticket. He was re-elected in the 1909 elections, but lost his seat in 1913.[2]

Balkan Wars and Albania[]

Prince Wilhelm of Wied, Isa Boletini and officers of the International Gendarmerie: Duncan Heaton-Armstrong and Colonel Thomson near Durres in June 1914

During the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, Thomson again served as a military attaché, this time in Greece. In 1914, now holding the rank of major, he was selected as head of the new International Gendarmerie force which was to work under the command of Dutch officers in Albanian service in a peacekeeping function to stabilize the newly independent Principality of Albania. On 15 June 1914, his unit was engaged in fighting around the town of Durrës in southern Albania, during which he was killed. According to sources, it is probable that an Italian sniper was behind his death.[3][4]

Thomson was initially buried in Albania but his remains were transferred to the Netherlands a month later and re-buried with great public attention in Groningen. As a reaction to Thomson's death and the general failure of the peacekeeping attempt, the Dutch activity in the Albanian gendarmerie was discontinued a short time later.


Bust of Thomson, Hereweg, Groningen

A street in Groningen as well as a street and a square in The Hague are named after Thomson. Public statues commemorating him were also erected in both Dutch cities, as well as in Durrës.


  1. "THOMSON, Lodewijk Willem Johan Karel (1869-1914)". Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. 
  2. "L.W.J.K. Thomson". 
  3. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. "..rumoured, an Italian sniper was behind his death ..." 
  4. Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan; Belfield, Gervase; Destani, Bejtullah D. (2005). The six month kingdom: Albania 1914. I. B. Tauris. p. 177. ISBN 1-85043-761-0. "According to the most detailed analysis of the circumstances ... he was probably killed by an unidentified Italian sniper, not Moslem rebels. (Goslinga, Gorrit T A. The Dutch in Albania. Rome, 1972, pp. 42-45)" 

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