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John Thornton Down
2 March 1842 – 28 April 1866 
Victoria Cross Medal without Bar.png
Place of birth Fulham, London
Place of death Otahuhu, New Zealand
Resting place Otahuhu Old Cemetery
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Ensign
Unit 57th Regiment of Foot
Battles/wars Invasion of Waikato
Awards Victoria Cross

John Thornton Down VC (2 March 1842 – 28 April 1866) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Down was 21 years old, and an Ensign in the 57th Regiment of Foot (later The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own)), British Army during the Invasion of Waikato (one of the campaigns in the New Zealand Wars), when the following deed took place on 2 October 1863 at Poutoko, New Zealand for which he and Drummer Dudley Stagpoole were awarded the VC:

For their conduct at Pontoko, on the 2nd October, in rescuing a wounded comrade from the rebel Maories. They succeeded in bringing in the wounded man, who was lying at about fifty yards from the bush,although the enemy kept up a very heavy fire from the bush at short range, and also from behind fallen logs close at hand.

The man had been wounded during an engagement with the rebel natives, and Ensign Down, and Drummer Stagpoole, responded to the call of the Officer commanding the detachment of the Regiment for volunteers to bring him in.

The Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field has already been conferred on Drummer Stagpoole, for the energy and devotion which he displayed on the 25th September, 1863, at the affair near Kaipakopako, in having, though wounded in the head, twice volunteered and brought in wounded men.[1]

He was killed in action at Otahuhu, New Zealand on 28 April 1866.


  1. ^ London Gazette: no. 22896, p. 4552, 23 September 1864. Retrieved on 19 December 2009.

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