b. 01/11/1821 Elgin, Scotland. d. 22/08/1896 Elgin, Scotland.
William Rennie (1822-1887) was born on 31st October 1822 in Elgin, Scotland. He was the son of the Duke of Sutherland’s gamekeeper. He enlisted with the 73rd Regiment of Foot (Black Watch) and served in Monte Videa during its blockade in 1846. He then served in the Sixth and Eighth Frontier Wars of 1846-47 and 1850-53, being present at many engagements, including the Battle of Beres, and was promoted to Ensign for his gallant conduct in the field on 11th August 1854. He then transferred to the 90th Light Infantry (later Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)) and served throughout the Indian Mutiny of 1857-59 entering Lucknow with Havelock’s column (wounded) and later took part in the relief and defence of Lucknow. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 24th February 1857. For his services in the Mutiny, he was awarded the Mutiny Medal and two clasps and was awarded the Victoria Cross.
In his citation published on 24th December 1858, two separate acts of gallantry were recorded. Firstly, on 21st September 1857 at Mangalwar, he charged the enemy’s guns ahead of the skirmishers and set about attacking the gunners and sepoys guarding the guns with his fists and caused such confusion that the guns were taken with little casualties. Four days later at the charge on Charbagh Bridge, Lucknow, he again repeated the same action and forced the rebels to abandon their guns. The late Major-General Havelock remarked of Rennie: “To do once was bravery. To do it twice was madness.” He received his VC in February 1859 presumably by registered post as there is no record of an investiture.
Rennie was promoted to Captain and when the Regiment returned to Scotland in 1869, he received his majority. He was finally advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1874 before retiring in 1875. He died in Elgin on 27th August 1896 aged 75. He was buried in Elgin Cemetery. His medals were purchased in January 1969 at Sotheby’s for the then record price of £1,700 by the Cameronians Regimental Museum, Hamilton, Scotland.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: CAMERONIANS MUSEUM, HAMILTON, SCOTLAND.
BURIAL PLACE: ELGIN CEMETERY, ELGIN, SCOTLAND. LAIR H-96.
Picture - Thomas Stewart