Born: 4 January1918
Died: 19 July 1943

John was born in Chelsea, the youngest child of John Venning and his wife Margaret Beatrice Close-Brooks. He had a brother and two sisters. His father was a solicitor in Grays Inn Square, the son of a solicitor. His mother’s father was a banker in Macclesfield.

He was educated at Winchester and Matriculated in 1936.

He married Pamela Aileen Mackintosh in 1941 at Bedford. They had a son, Mark, the following year.

He was a Lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry attached to the 1st Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment when he was killed in Sicily on 19 July 1943.

He is buried in the Catania War Cemetery Plot III. K. 35. He is commemorated on a Portland stone tablet on the north wall of St Paul’s Church, Bedford. The faculty was granted on 4 May 1947.

In memory of John Edgecombe Venning a Lieutenant
in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
formerly of Winchester College and Christ Church Oxford
who was married in this church on the 19 June 1941
and who was killed in Sicily on the 19 July 1943 aged 25

Christ Church is grateful to Mark Venning for his biography of his father.


My father was born on 4 January 1918, the youngest of the four children of John Venning, solicitor in London.  He was educated at Sandroyd and then followed his father and brother to Winchester College (1931-6).  In 1936 he went up to Christ Church Oxford to read Greats. 

He was planning to become a solicitor, but joined the DCLI and served as a 2nd Lieutenant from February 1940; he was later attached to the Dorsets as a Lieutenant and served in Egypt.  In June 1941 he married my mother, Pamela Aileen Mackintosh, daughter of the Antarctic explorer Aeneas Mackintosh. He had met her while still at school; their short marriage was very happy, though much interrupted by war service, and I was born in September 1942.

A contemporary described John as “a delightful personality, marked by natural charm and lightness of touch”, and that is how he was remembered by his family and by friends of all ages who kept in touch with my mother during her long life. He thrived at Oxford, developing a lively interest in philosophy and football; rumour has it that he once took a complete football eleven to a match in an Austin Seven. (When I arrived at the House in October 1961, the Porter’s first greeting was “Pleased to see another Venning here, sir: we need you for the football team” – alas, I disappointed him.) He much enjoyed poetry, and would memorise a poem each day while shaving before breakfast – in order, he said, to make that tedious task more interesting. 

John was killed during the landings in Sicily on 19 July 1943; his grave is at Catania. My grandfather chose a quotation from Propertius for his memorials in Sicily and in St Paul’s Church, Bedford, where he was married:  Trajicit et fati litora magnus amor – Great love transcends even the boundaries of fate. When my mother died in 2000, the same inscription was placed on her grave in a Wiltshire churchyard.

Mark Venning
July 2011