During my research into members of our Order who have won the Victoria Cross, I came across the earliest winner of the V.C. I say earliest and not first as there may be someone out there who knows of one or more of our past members who have won a V.C. on an earlier date. ( If so please let me know.)
This Buff who distinguished himself by his Valour and Bravery was Sergeant William Bernard Traynor V.C. who won his Victoria Cross in the Boar War on the 6th February 1901, for gallantry during a night attack by the Boar on Bothwell Camp, during the battle at Lake Chrissie, South Africa.
William Bernard Traynor was born on December 31st 1870, at 29 Moxon Street, Hull. His father Francis Traynor was a Flax dresser from County Monaghan, Ireland, who became a Merchant Seaman. His mother Rebecca was a native of Hull. He was educated at Pryme Street, Roman Catholic School in Hull.
Nine weeks before his eighteenth birthday, he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment, and served a number of years in India. After his return to England in about 1895, he met Miss Jane Elizabeth Martin of Hunton in Kent and they were married on 12th June 1897 in Hunton, Nr. Maidstone. They had six children: Alice Kathleen born May 5th 1897 who died in 1898; Francis Bernard Redver, born December 7th 1898. Both these children died at a very young age, Cecil Robert born May 4th 1903 and Ellen May born July 20th 1910. Twin boys William Bothwell and Victor Charles born April 5th 1905, both followed in their fathers footsteps and joined the Royal Engineers and by the age of 45, had both gained the Rank of Major.
It was on November 12th 1895 that Bro. Traynor joined the R.A.O.B., G.L.E., in the Prince of Wales Lodge No 668, in the Rose Inn, Sandgate, Kent. This later became No 596 when the then Grand Secretary, Bro. Wilson-Marsh re-numbered all the existing Lodges into the series we have today.
Brother Traynor served in South Africa from 1899 until 1901, during which time he saw action In the following campaigns. Willow Grange, November 22nd and 23rd 1899. Colenso, Spion Cop, Vall Krantz, Natal ending at Pieters Hill, Northern Natal and Orange River Colony, including action at Laings Nek and East and West Transvaal. Severely wounded on the night of February 6th 1901; the action where he won his Victoria Cross, arriving at the Hospital on February 15th.
Whilst in Hospital, for his services in these campaigns, he was awarded Queens South Africa Medal with Clasps (bars) for, Tagela Heights, the relief of Ladysmith, Laings Nek, and the Transvaal and Orange River for 1901. He was also presented with the Coronation Medals for George VI and Queen Elizabeth II 1953.
On September 18th 1901 the following report appeared in the "The Graphic". The Coveted Honour of the Victoria Cross is to be bestowed on, Lieut, F. B. Dugdale of the 5th Lancers and Sgt. W.B. Traynor, 2nd Battalion Prince of Wales Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) for their conspicuous gallantry in South Africa. His Citation in the London gazette on September 17th 1901 read as follows:
"During the night attack on Bothwell camp on the 6th February 1901, Sgt Traynor jumped out of a trench and ran under extremely heavy fire to the assistance of a wounded man. While running out he was severely wounded himself, he called for assistance, Lance Corporal Lintott at once came to him, and between them, they carried the wounded soldier to shelter. After this. although severely wounded Sgt. Traynor remained in charge of his section, and was most cheerful, encouraging his men until the attack failed"
His wounds were so serious he had to be invalided home to the U.K. where he spent a long time recuperating under medical treatment.
Owing to his state of health, he was unable to travel to London to receive his decoration from King Edward VII. Colonel Edward Stephenson Browne V.C., (who had won his own Victoria Cross in the Zulu War), presented him with the Victoria Cross on July 2nd, 1902 at the West Yorkshire Barracks in York.
Corporal Lintott who was also mentioned in the citation was awarded the D.C.M. the second highest Award (nicknamed the almost, but not quite) and promoted to Sergeant by Lord Kitchener in South Africa.
The following is an extract from Orders by Major-General Smith Dorrien dated February 7th 1901: "The G.O.C. compliments most highly the steadiness of all Infantry Battalions in the outpost line during the attack last night. The conduct of the West Yorkshires, on whom the brunt of the battle fell, was especially fine and their heavy losses are to be deplored. The casualties were very heavy, owing to the Boers getting through two piquet's having followed a mob of 200 stampeded cavalry horses."
Sgt Traynor was discharged from the Army medically unfit, on September 29th 1901. He applied for and was given a post as Barrack Warden at Dover on September 8th 1902. During the First World War whilst on duty at Dover he earned a Mention in Despatches. He held the post of Barrack Warden for 33 years until he retired in 1935 at the age of 65.
It was during a celebration on the 50th anniversary of his winning the Victoria Cross, he showed a letter to a newspaper correspondent, from the District Paymaster, a lieutenant Colonel which read as follows: "Your Husband having been killed in action February 6th 1901. you are no longer entitled to any further payments from this office. Please return your certificate of identity."
Bro. Traynor carried on his Buffing in Dover, and in fact, I believe he was a founder member of the Royal United Services Lodge No 2291 and the Dover Patrol Lodge No 3765. At one point in the United Services Lodge they had Bro. W.B. Traynor V.C. as Sitting Primo; Bro. J. H. Blackwell M.C. as City Marshall, and Bro. Reed D.S.M. was City Constable. Can any Lodge beat that record?
He gained his second degree in his mother lodge; the Prince of Wales No. 596, and 3rd degree in the Royal United Services Lodge. His Third degree regalia still hangs in a frame in the Dover Patrol Lodge, where the members were under the impression he had not been raised to a higher Degree. During my research, I found he had in fact had the Honour of being raised to the Forth Degree by the Provincial Grand Lodge of the S.E.Kent and not his Lodge, this in itself is an unusual occurrence. It was once said if a lodge had 5 Buffs like him, with his cheerfulness, attention to detail and sense of Loyalty, then that Lodge would be the best in the Order.
Bro. Traynor unfortunately was a widower for some 26 years as his good lady passed away in 1928. Bro. W.B. Traynor V.C. died on 12th October 1954, two months short of his 84th Birthday and was buried with full Buffalo Honours in the Charlton Cemetery. Dover.
Article researched & written by: Bro. Stan Stirman ROH, Museum Curator, Grove House Harrogate.
Bro Stan Stirman ROH, G.L. Museum Curator, would like to give his grateful thanks to the following without who's help he would not have been able to complete his story on the life of this Buff of Valour Bro. William B. Traynor V.C.
The National Army Museum in London for allowing me to research the Lummis Papers. The West Yorkshire Regimental Museum in York Bro. Harry Reid ROH P.G.Sec S. E. Kent PGL
Note from the Buffalo Quarterly Journal Editor Bro. J. Hook ROH: (Summer Issue 2004.) "My thanks are extended to Bro. Stan Stirman the Museum Curator for his enthusiasm in researching the information required for this article"
The South East Kent Province would like to thank most sincerely the following:-
Bro. Stan Stirman ROH Museum Curator for his outstanding work and research in producing this article on Bro. William Traynor V.C and for giving his permission to enter it on this web site.
The Grand Lodge Management Committee along with Bro. Jack Hook ROH as retiring Journal Editor and Bro. Andy Baker KOM as the new Editor for their kind permission to reproduce this article which was written for and printed in the Summer issue 2004 Quarterly Journal.