John was commissioned into the The Border Regiment on 20 August 1940 and initially posted to the 6th Battalion before joining the 1st Battalion in May 1942 as a Platoon commander as the Battalion was transitioning to a glider infantry role. After a period as subaltern instructor at the Airborne Depot Battle School in Hardwick Hall John rejoined 1st Battalion as OC 13 Platoon, B Company as the Bn was shipped to Tunisia to participate in the Airborne invasion of Sicily. As with many of the Battalion's gliders, his landed in the Mediterranean and he and his platoon spent 8 hours in the sea before being rescued.
On return to the UK, John was transferred to S Company to command 28 Medium Machine Gun (MMG) Platoon as 1st Battalion prepared for the invasion of Europe in 1944. John landed at Oosterbeek on 17 September 1944 with the first lift and spent much of the battle supporting C Company positions at the western side of the perimeter at the Koude Herberg crossroads on Utrechtseweg. John was one of the few Battalion officers to return across the Rhine on the night of 25/26 September. For his gallantry in the battle, he was recommended for the Military Cross, which was not ultimately awarded:
On 23 Sep 1944 at ARNHEM, Lieut McCARTNEY was in charge of a section of MMGs supporting the right flank of C Coy. At 1000hrs a very heavy enemy counter attack began to develop on C Coy’s front. The attack was prefaced by very heavy mortar and shell fire on the positions, causing a number of casualties. The main infantry assault commenced at 1200hrs. Lieut McCartney was tireless in his efforts to kill the enemy, personally directing the fire of his guns; he moved from one gun position to another , completely regardless of the danger from mortar and shells, to encourage his men to greater efforts. He personally assisted in bringing up more ammunition under continuous heavy fire, and when it became necessary he took over personal control of one of the guns . His tireless energy, devotion to duty, and disregard of danger were an inspiration to all ranks, and his efforts were largely responsible for the attack being repelled with considerable loss to the enemy.
John was promoted to Captain on return to the UK and commanded the MMG Group in S Company and participated in the Battalion's occupation duties in Norway and Germany until being released from the Army in August 1946.
John died of natural causes in 1995 and is only known to have returned to Oosterbeek once in March 1946 whilst serving in Germany.
Created with information kindly supplied by S McCartneyRead More