Victoria Cross given to Boer War hero who was so badly injured his wife was told he died in battle sells for £192,000 at auction


A Victoria Cross awarded to a war hero who was so badly wounded that his wife was wrongly told he was dead has sold for an impressive £192,000 – but the tale of valour behind the medal is priceless.

Sergeant William Traynor was awarded the VC in 1901 for jumping from his trench into heavy enemy fire in order to dash across a battlefield to help a wounded man.

He was shot in the leg and chest but still dragged the casualty to safety with the help of another comrade.

His own injuries appeared so bad that military officials sent a telegram home to his wife saying he had been killed.

She later learned that he had survived and he went on to recover from his wounds suffered in the Boer War at Bothwell Camp, South Africa.

The grandson of Sergeant William Traynor decided to sell the prestigious medal in order to split the proceeds between his own children.

It was bought by a British private collector for £160,000. With all the fees added on the overall price paid for it was £192,000.

Christopher Hill, from auctioneers Dix Noonan and Webb, said: ‘One of the great-grandchildren was at the sale and was quite emotional.

‘The seller found himself in the position of being unable to leave the medal to any one child and so decided the best thing would be to let it go to a good home and let all four children benefit from it.

‘We were very happy with the price the medal achieves, it was well above the pre-sale estimate.’

He added: ‘As is oft forgotten, the Victoria Cross is as much issued for saving life as it is for taking it.

‘And the gallantry displayed by William Traynor at Bothwell was a classic example of the former.

‘He rescued a wounded comrade under a murderous fire at night, himself taking hits in the chest and a thigh.

‘Indeed such was the serious nature of his resultant wounds that his wife Jane received an erroneous War Office telegram reporting that he had been killed in action.

‘His case has all the drama one might expect of a VC action.’

Some 2,000 enemy Boer soldiers attacked the British camp at Bothwell at 3am on February 6, 1901.
They let loose horses run through the camp in order to disorientate the British and make them think they were being attacked by the cavalry.

Many were killed in their beds before they had even dressed to respond to the attack. Twenty-four officers were killed and 53 were badly wounded.

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