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Macgregor VC: biography of Colonel John MacGregor, VC, MC and BAR, DCM ED.


John MacGregor won four very significant bravery awards during WWI but the term "Canada's most decorated soldier" tends to be a mite confusing. MacGregor was awarded the VC, the Military Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Conduct Medal. We immediately flipped back to Bill Barker and noted that he won the VC, the DSO and Bar and the Military Cross with two bars. Our conclusion is that author James MacGregor was referring specifically to ground troops and not Canadian servicemen.

The book is a fascinating account of a loner who ultimately belonged at dinners of state in London or logging the B.C. bush. Written by MacGregor's son, it provides a very personal view of a boy leaving the poverty of Nairn, Scotland, to gamble on a life in Canada's golden west during the years just prior to WWI. "Jock" MacGregor worked at odd jobs as he moved westward. A stint as a dockhand in Prince Rupert led to trapping. He was trapping along the frozen, isolated Naas River when a Ranger visited his cabin and told him that Britain had been at war over six months. MacGregor trekked some 70 miles on snowshoes to enlist.

MacGregor went into action as a sergeant with the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles in the latter stages of the Somme disaster. At Vimy Ridge, he won the DCM for wiping out an enemy machine gun nest. Later at Hill 70, Lieutenant MacGregor won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Then, during the last hundred days of the war, Captain John MacGregor was awarded the Victoria Cross for personally wiping out an enemy machine-gun nest while under intense fire.

MacGregor commanded a battalion of the Canadian Scottish. But unfortunately he was never able to adapt his military success to peacetime activities. The personal detail of the man's character makes a fascinating read.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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