John MacGregor VC, MC & Bar, DCM, lived from 1 February 1889 to 9 June 1952. He was a First World War recipient of the Victoria Cross. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
John MacGregor was born at Cawdor and educated in nearby Nairn. In 1909 at the age of 20 he emigrated to Canada where he worked as a fur trapper. In March 1915 he was trapping in the north of British Columbia when he learned of the start of the First World War through a chance encounter with another trapper. He immediately embarked on a 400km trek to Prince Rupert to join the army.
MacGregor joined the Canadian Army as a private and was sent to France with the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He showed a natural aptitude for soldiering and rose through the ranks. In 1916 MacGregor was promoted to sergeant, and in May 1917 he was involved in the fighting on Vimy Ridge. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in July 1917. In early 1918 MacGregor won the Military Medal for leading a successful trench raid.
By September 1918, MacGregor had been promoted to temporary captain and was serving near Cambrai, in France. During some very heavy fighting, he personally put a series of German machine guns out of action and took a number of prisoners, despite having been wounded himself. He then pressed on with his company, capturing what was left of the village of Neuville St. Remy, and making an important contribution to the wider offensive. MacGregor was awarded the Victoria Cross as a result. In November 1918, just before the end of the war, he was awarded his second Military Medal. He ended the war as Canada's most decorated soldier.
After the war he returned to Canada, working as a fisherman, a carpenter and a millwright. In 1940, by now aged 51, he again enlisted in the Canadian Army and was made a major in the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Scottish Regiment. He was later promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of a training camp in Wainwright, Alberta. After his second war, MacGregor set up a business at Cranberry Lake. He died in 1952.