- Name: John Thornton DOWN
- D.O.B: 2nd Mar, 1842
- D.O.A: 2nd Oct, 1863
- D.O.D: 27th Apr, 1866
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Ensign, 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
Poutoko, New Zealand 2 October 1863
2 October 1863
The New Zealand Wars 1860–65
As has been seen, the Waikato War in the north of the North Island of New Zealand was triggered by an incident near New Plymouth in the south-west. Though the Taranaki War there had formally ended in 1861, tensions remained high. The killing of European settlers continued and there were intermittent skirmishes with the Maori. Amongst other steps taken to contain the situation was the construction of St Patrick’s Redoubt at Poutoko on the Tapuai river south of New Plymouth. On 1 October 1863 a large Maori force gathered to attack the Redoubt. Reinforcements were sent from New Plymouth and on the following day there was a major engagement between the troops and the Maori.
For their conduct at Pontoko, on 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.