Private William Renwick
William Renwick was born on January 31, 1925, in Hamilton, Ontario. William and his sister, Shirley were raised by their parents James and Margaret. William started working full-time at National Steel Car when he was 14 years old. In 1941 at 16 years of age, he enlisted in the military, lying about his age. A couple of years later, William learned about the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion recruiting only the best men. William requested a transfer and would be successful in completing all the battery of testing. William was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A. for his parachute course. He graduated from his parachute course on March 6, 1943, and was now a proud paratrooper. He joined the Battalion in the UK and began training for their next mission. He showed maturity and leadership potential and was promoted to Lance Corporal.
William was part of C Coy, 5 platoon when he parachuted into Normandy, France at 1:09 a.m. on June 6, 1944, before the sea invasion started. His Coy was to cut German lines of communication and blow up several bridges to hinder enemy movement. On June 9, 1944, William was captured and became a POW for the remainder of the war. He was put on a cattle car with other POWs and spent 3 weeks on the train, with each car holding 30 men or 10 horses. He was sent to Stalag 1VB near Dresden on the Elbe River and was liberated by the Russians in 1945. The war was finally over and William was a free man and made his way back to England and then Canada.
After the Battalion was demobilized and William released from the military, he began working at Westinghouse in Hamilton, Ontario. He married his war bride Nancy Loe and they raised a family of three. William, in his spare time, played a variety of sports and was a devoted father and coached hockey, and was a scout leader. He was also very active in his community and joined the Legion and began raising money for a charity which saw him in a play as Andrew's sister with two other men. Not the most attractive trio!
Later he was transferred to Camco when Westinghouse was bought out by G.E. and became an Expediter and Union President of a mostly female local. He was one of the first to negotiate Equal pay for equal work. Always concerned about the rights of workers. Upon retirement, he moved to Richmond Hill and married his 2nd wife, Sheelagh MacDonald. He became active in the Richmond Hill Legion, serving as Youth Education Chair for many years, speaking to Cubs and Scouts, in schools, and in 1992 found his joy in being active with the 778 Air Cadet Squadron, on the Sponsoring Committee, and helping with the preparation of Cadets for exams, and attending Annual Reviews.
He absolutely loved the thrill of going up on the gliders! Always joked about how great it was to actually land in the plane rather than jump out of them. In 2004 Bill and Sheelagh attended the 60th Anniversary of D Day in Normandy and were presented with a medal from the people of Normandy which became a prized possession. And got to visit the place he was captured in 1944.
He would have been so proud to know that the 8 Globemaster squadron has honoured him with an annual award in his name. He held very fond memories of all the years he spent involved with the 778 Air Cadet Squadron until his death in 2013. William is resting at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill. If you have read this biography, then you have kept the memory of L/Cpl William Renwick alive.