Distinguished Conduct Medal, EVII, 4572 Private John Trainor, Liverpool Regiment, a local Liverpudlian decorated in the Victoria Cross action at Van Wyk’s Vlei on 21st August 1900.
The significant and stunning Liverpool Regiment Distinguished Conduct Medal of John Trainor, a local Liverpudlian from the 3rd Liverpool Militia, who in a tiny party of 5 men, held off a dangerous attack by 50 Boers, they held their ground for nearly an hour, losing 2 of their 5 men, they managed to cover the withdrawal of the the main force, managing to retire and bring with them some of the wounded, they were under heavy fire the entire action.
This resulted in the first award of the Victoria Cross to the Liverpool Regiment, since it’s creation in the Crimean War.
The King’s Liverpool Regiment is one of the oldest line infantry regiments of the British Army, since the inception of the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War, the regiment has fought in many difficult and arduous campaigns, but the award of the coveted Victoria Cross has always eluded the soldiers of the Liverpool Regiment.
Suddenly in August of 1900, during the Anglo Boer War, the regiment would earn 3 Victoria Crosses in the span of just 3 days, in the same area.
These were awarded to Corporal Knight and Sgt H. Hampton on 21st August 1900, 2 days later near Geluk, another was earned by Private W. Heaton.
The Victoria Cross citation of Henry James Knight, for which a joint award of 2 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to Pte Traynor and Pte J. McNamara, members of his detachment of 4 men who fought back against over 50, the final 2 members of his unit were killed during the action and received no recognition.
“On 21st August 1900, during the operations near Van Wyk’s Vlei, Corporal Knight, Liverpool, Regiment, was posted in some rocks with four men, covering the right rear of a detachment of the same company, who, under Captain Ewart, were holding the right of the line.
The enemy, about 50 strong, attacked Captain Ewart’s right and almost surrendered, at short range, Corporal Knight’s small party.
The Non-Commissioned Officer held his ground, directing his party to retire 1 by 1 to better cover, where he maintained his position for nearly an hour, covering the withdrawal of Captain Ewart’s Force, and losing 2 of his 4 men. He then retired, bringing with him 2 wounded men. 1 of these he left in place of safety, the other he carried himself for nearly 2 miles. The Party were hotly engaged the whole time.”
There are no citations for awards of the D.C.M. during the Boer War, their involvement is however matched in the Regimental History of the Liverpool Regiment reading:
“Privates J. Trainor and J. McNamara – Were of the party under Corporal H.J. Knight, at Van Wyk’s Vlei, on 21st August 1900.”
The small group of 5 men fought bravely in defence of the flank, resulting in the death of 2 of the 5, the 3 survivors, were then decorated with the Victoria Cross and 2 Distinguished Conduct Medals.
The Victoria Cross Grouping of Corporal J.H Knight is now held in the Museum of Liverpool, alongside that of Private W. Heaton, who earned his 2 days later. On the same day that Knight earned his Victoria Cross, amazingly another was earned by Harry Hampton, also of the Liverpool Regiment, on the same day for the same battle, who also held his position bravely with a section of the mounted infantry.
John Trainer was born in Liverpool, Lancashire during 1876, He served with the 3rd Liverpool Regiment of Militia and when he turned 18 year old, attesting with the King’s Liverpool Regiment on 7th July 1894 at Warrington.
His first trip abroad was actually with the regiment to Barbados from 4th December 1895 until 6th November 1897.
He then went with the Regiment to South Africa on 7th November 1897 and served throughout the Boer War until 10th October 1902.
He returned home to round out his service from 11th October 1902 until 6th July 1910, having served for 16 years.