John Deane Reynolds was born in 1920 in Bromley, Kent, son of Frank Reynolds and Eileen (nee Deane) His father worked for the Air Ministry and so the family moved around the UK as he was posted to oversee the building of new airfields. John was educated at Kings School, Worcester, and Hertford College, Oxford.
In July 1940 he volunteered for the army, and was sent to Norton Barracks as a private in The Worcestershire Regiment. After weeks of training he volunteered for The Special Service Brigade, and was posted to No. 3 Commando in Largs, Scotland in October 1940. He became a batman to Ronald Denton of No. 1 Troop, and took part in the Lofoten Islands raid, Norway during March 1941; then he was made a L/Cpl in charge of a Demolition Squad, in which capacity he blew up a herring oil factory in the raid on Vaagso, Norway in December 1941.
He was then sent on a rock-climbing course in Glencoe, and was made an Assistant Instructor on cliff-climbing training. While doing that at Clovelly in early 1942 he was sent to 163rd OCTU at Heysham (Lancs), was then commissioned in July, and posted to 11th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
In November he managed to get himself sent back to No.3 Commando, then in Worthing.
In 1943 he served with the No.3 Commando in Gibraltar, N. Africa, Egypt, and the invasion of Sicily, where he was one of the first to land to lead his Troop to Cassibile, and later to capture Agnone Bridge to save it from demolition. Later he was sent with a patrol of 6 to Bova Marina in Italy to check up on the situation before the main invasion. When the landing craft came next day to collect them, it forgot to slow down and ended well up the beach, and couldn't get off again! So he and his patrol retired up into the hills, while his commander Peter Young and the crew went and took over a local village. When he heard that the invasion had happened, John and his patrol made their way to Reggio, and the rest of No.3. (This was the operation for which he was awarded his M.C.)
Colonel J. D. Reynolds, M.C., M.A.