A decorated war hero who led soldiers during the Normandy landings of World War Two has died suddenly.
Colonel John Wilson Bannister died suddenly at his home in Farmcote, Claverley, near Wolverhampton, on October 11, aged 93.
Colonel Bannister, known as Jock, was born in Bromsgrove and educated at Wolverley School near Kidderminster.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he started training to become a solicitor – joining Westwood and Morris and Co, Birmingham, as an articled clerk. But after only two years war broke out and Jock enlisted as a guardsman in the Grenadier Guards.
He was selected to go to the officer’s cadet training unit at Sandhurst in 1941. And on February 22, 1941, he received an emergency commission into the Worcestershire regiment as a Second Lieutenant.
He was then posted to the 11th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as a platoon commander. On January 1, 1943, the 11th Battalion was reformed into the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, where Jock took over command of the mortar platoon.
He landed with the first battalion in Normandy in June 1944 and continued to command the mortar platoon with the rank of captain. Jock was involved in all the battalion’s operations throughout the war.
At the end of the war he was awarded a Commander in Chief Certificate, signed by Field Marshal Montgomery, for his outstanding bravery and devotion to duty.
In May 1945, the European war at an end, Jock transferred to the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles and served with them in Palestine as a company commander.
The following year he returned to the UK. Two years later, after qualifying as a solicitor, he joined his father’s firm WW Bannister and Son at Stourbridge.
But he remained in the army reserve of officers in the Territorial Army. And in the 1950s, during the Suez Crisis, he was recalled for service, joining the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as a company commander with the rank of major.
In 1961 Jock was made second in command and three years later was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of the 7th Battalion. The same year he was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Decoration, TD, and commanded the 7th Battalion until it was disbanded in 1967.
He continued his association with the Worcestershire regiment and became chairman of the 1st Battalion Regiment North West Europe 1944-45 Association.
In 1949 Jock married Dorothy Allanby, known as Dodo. As a young man he was a good sportsman who boxed for his battalion and played cricket and rugby. He also had a keen interest in shooting and fishing.
Colonel Bannister is survived by his daughter Gill Williamson, son Richard, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He will be cremated in Stourbridge Crematorium on October 25, at 2.10pm.
A service of thanksgiving will be held in All Saints Church, Claverley, on November 19, from 11.30am.