b. 12/05/1825 Riga, Russian Federation (now Latvia). d. 05/01/1887 Bath, Somerset.
George Alexander Renny (1825-1887) was born on 12th May 1825 in Riga, now in Latvia. His father, a merchant whose family had settled in Russia for more than a century, died shortly after his son’s birth, and his widow decided to move their children to Scotland, where she hailed from. George was educated at Addiscombe Seminary and obtained a commission in the Bengal Horse Artillery, one of the smartest Regiments in the Honorable East India Company’s Army. He took part in the Sutlej Campaign in 1846 and by the time the Indian Mutiny had broken out in 1857, he was now commanding the 5th Native Troop of the 1st Brigade. In 1849 he had married Flora Hastings Macwhirter, the daughter of Dr John Macwhirter, late President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
He first saw action at Jalandhar on 7th June 1857 and had reached the city of Delhi by the 23rd June and was heavily involved in the siege. When the assault was made, Renny commanded No 4 siege battery and when the infantry stormed the defences, he took some gunners of his troop with 12-pounder mortars to shell the houses and streets in front of the attack. During the taking of the Kashmir Bastion, he turned a captured gun on the enemy.
On 16th September 1857, the British reached the Delhi magazine, which was taken, but the rebels immediately counter-attacked. Covered by heavy fire from the surrounding tall buildings the rebels managed to set the thatch alight on some of the buildings near the wall. Despite the heavy fire, Renny climbed to the top of the magazine wall and pelted the enemy with live shells, which were handed up to him with their fuses lit. This had the desired effect as the rebels withdrew and Renny was then able to turn his mortars on the trouble spots. For this improvised act of gallantry, he was gazetted for the VC on 12th April 1859. He was then one of the 12 recipients who was invested at Windsor Castle on 9th November 1860. Renny continued to impress his superiors during the rest of the Mutiny campaign and was specially mentioned in a supplementary despatch and received a brevet majority.
He took part in the Hazara Campaign of 1868 when his mountain battery was carried on elephants. He retired with the rank of Major General on 31st December 1878, and retired to the West Country. Renny died on 5th January 1887 in Bath and was buried in Locksbrook Cemetery. His medals are part of the Ashcroft Collection and displayed at the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: LOCKSBROOK CEMETERY, BATH, SOMERSET. SECTION FJ, GRAVE 864.
George Renny's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).
RA Chapel, Woolwich
Freshford Church, Somerset
Plan - Kevin Brazier