John “Jock” Rennie GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 13/12/1920 Aberdeen, Scotland. d. 29/10/1943 Slough, Berkshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/10/1943 Slough, Berkshire.

John “Jock” Rennie (1919-1943) was born on 13th December 1920 in Aberdeen, Scotland, the son of George and Agnes Jeannie Rennie (nee Gordon). The family emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1924, when Jock was five, and settled first in Kingston, Ontario, before moving to Kitchener, Ontario. Jock had two brothers James and George, and two sisters, Agnes and Olive. Jock attended Suddaby School and was later employed by the Canada Skate Company.

John “Jock” Rennie GC

Jock then set up business with his brother George in Kitchener, called Rennie Insurance Company. He enlisted early on into the Second World War, and served at Niagara-on-the-Lake, British Columbia, and for 21 months in Jamaica before going overseas with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

He and his brother George served across Europe during the conflict, with George becoming a Sergeant Major, and Jock rose to the rank of Acting Sergeant by the time he was serving at a Canadian Training Camp in England in the autumn of 1943.

On 29th October 1943 in Slough, Berkshire, he was supervising live grenade throwing by a member of his unit at a Canadian training camp. One grenade was thrown successfully, but a second grenade failed to clear the protective embankment and rolled back into the throwing area. Although Rennie had the time and opportunity to take cover, without hesitation he dashed forward, putting himself between the grenade and his men. As he attempted to pick up the grenade and throw it clear, it exploded, fatally injuring him. By his sacrifice he prevented serious and possibly fatal injuries to three other men within 5 yards of the explosion.

Jock was buried with full military honours in the Canadian section of the Brookwood Military Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey. His medals including his GC (announced in London Gazette on 10th June 1944), War Medal 1939-45, Defence Medal 1939-45, and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp are still proudly held by the Rennie family.