Not in the face of the enemy

John Rennie served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada

Acting Sergeant John Rennie G.C. saved the lives of soldiers during a training exercise.
(Wiki Commons Image)

George Cross Recipient: John Rennie

On 24 September 1940 the George Cross was instituted by King George VI for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger* not in the presence of the enemy. It is the second highest award for gallantry and follows the Victoria Cross in the Order of Precedence. A posthumous award of the George Cross was granted to Acting Sergeant John Rennie of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

The George Cross

The George Cross for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
(Image from

During a grenade-throwing training exercise, 29 October 1943 at Riddlesworth, England a live grenade having failed to clear the protective embankment fell back into the trench that the trainees occupied. Quickly, John Rennie, pushed one of the soldiers to the side, picked up the grenade and when attempting to throw the grenade out of harm’s way it exploded mortally injuring Rennie whose body shielded three fellow soldiers who were within five yards of the explosion.

John Rennie was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

At Brookwood Military Cemetery, England. The grave and marker of John Rennie G.C.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

The Aberdeen, Scotland born John Rennie came to Canada as a young child and grew up in Kitchener (formerly Berlin), Ontario. He joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in July 1940 and arrived in England with the battalion in the summer of 1943. John Rennie G.C., aged 23, is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, England.

*From the Fifth Claus of the George Cross Warrant.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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