William Bernard Traynor became a Freemason and was initiated into Military Jubilee Lodge No 2195 Dover, in February 1919, he was also the first member of the lodge to be honoured with Grand Rank as P.A.G.Swd.B,
Born in Hull, Yorkshire, on 31st December 1870, he joined the West Yorkshire Regiment on 15th November 1888.
Appointed Lance Corporal on 7 October 1896, he became a Corporal on 8 September 1897, three months after his marriage on 12 June at Hunton, Near Maidstone in Kent, to Jane Elizabeth Martin. On 16 September 1899, William Traynor became a Sergeant. He re-engaged at Aldershot a month later, to complete his 21 years of service. He went to East India on 29 January 1891 until 21 April 1893, and to South Africa on 20 October 1899 to 9 March 1901.
It was here that he gained his Victoria Cross. On 6 February 1901, at Bothwell Camp, South Africa, Sergeant Traynor ran out of a trench to rescue a wounded man. He was wounded himself, and Lance-Corporal W T Lintott came to his aid. Between them they carried the wounded man to safety.
Though wounded, with a splinter in his chest and a bullet in his thigh, Sergeant Traynor remained on duty and continued to encourage his men. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.
So bad was his condition, a telegram was sent to Mrs Traynor, announcing that her husband had been killed in action. She also received a letter 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.” That was certainly not the case, Sergeant Traynor was returned home on 10th March 1901, and discharged as medically unfit for further service on 29th September 1901. His wounds meant that he could not travel to London to receive his VC from the King, but instead received it at York in July 1902, from Colonel Edward Stevenson-Browne, himself a VC recipient.
The Traynor’s settled in Dover in 1902, Mr Traynor becoming an Orderly Room Clerk with the Royal Artillery. In 1911 they were living at 36 Eaton Road, an army pensioner and barrack warden, which job he retained until he retired in 1935. With him were his wife and their sons, Francis Bernard R, born in 1899 at Hunton, and who was to die later in 1911, Cecil Robert, born 1903, twins William Bothwell and Victor Charles, born in 1905, and Eileen May, born in 1910, all in Dover. Another daughter, Alice Kathleen, had been born in 1898 but had died in early 1901.
He died on 20th October 1954, at Buckland Hospital, Dover and is buried in Charlton Cemetery, Dover, Kent.
In December 2012, his medals where put up for auction for auction at Dix Noonan Webb Ltd, Bolton Street, London. The VC fetched £160,000. William’s other medals were the Queen’s South Africa medal with 6 clasps: Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek; and the 1937 and 1953 Coronation medals. Purchased by the Ashcroft Trust and are now displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
There is a fitting memorial to Freemasons awarded the VC during the Great War, 64 in total, outside the United Grand Lodge of England in London.
A link to the event and the commemorative programme can be found here.