Islington Victoria Cross hero honoured 100 years after “conspicuous bravery”

A soldier from Islington has been commemorated 100 years after winning the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery, dash and initiative under heavy fire” in the First World War.

Charles William Train was born at 58 Chatterton Road, Islington in 1890. He was educated at Gillespie Road LCC School, attended nearby St Thomas’s Church and also played in the church’s football team - writes

Train worked as a solicitor’s clerk in Gray’s Inn, before joining the London Scottish Regiment in 1909, when he was 18. Following the outbreak of the First World War he arrived in France in September 1914, seeing action at Messines on 31 October, with the London Scottish being the first territorial regiment to face the enemy. By 1917 he had achieved the rank of sergeant.

On December 8 1917, Train was involved in a battle at Ein Kerem, near Jerusalem, in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, and was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his decisive action.

His citation read: “For most conspicuous, bravery, dash and initiative displayed under heavy fire when his company was unexpectedly engaged at close range by a party of the enemy with two machine guns and brought to a standstill.

“Corporal Train on his own initiative rushed forward and engaged the enemy with rifle grenades, and succeeded in putting some of the team out of action with a direct hit. He then shot at and wounded an officer in command, and with bomb and rifle killed and wounded the remainder of the team. After this he went to the assistance of a comrade who was bombing the enemy from their front and shot at and killed one of the enemy who was carrying the second gun out of action.

“His courage and devotion to duty undoubtedly saved his battalion heavy casualties and enabled them to advance to their objective at a time when the situation seemed critical.”

Following the action, Corporal Train was personally awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V, who presented it to him in the field.

Train was later awarded the rank of Sergeant, and following the war in 1919 emigrated to Canada to pursue an agricultural scholarship. He was to make his mark, however, in shipping. He died in 1965 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Burnaby, British Columbia. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the London Scottish Regimental Museum in London.

On Friday, December 8 - exactly 100 years after Train’s actions - Islington Council laid a memorial stone at Islington Memorial Green commemorating Train’s heroism.

Cllr Gary Poole, Islington Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “At the risk of his own life, Corporal Train courageously led an attack on two machine guns that saved many lives among his battalion.

“We are honoured to commemorate his bravery 100 years ago, and also to remember the young servicemen and servicewomen who continue to risk their lives for our country today.”

The paving stone is the third of five which Islington is laying as part of the national Victoria Cross Paving Stones project, which is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and honours those were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

In 2015 a memorial stone was laid for Mercantile Master Frederick Parslow, who was posthumously awarded the VC for his heroism when his unarmed ship was attacked by a U-boat in 1915. In February 2017 a memorial stone was laid for Frederick Booth, for his role in an attack on an enemy position in German East Africa.

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