James Dunn, Machine Gun Corps
The James Dunn named on the Little Gaddesden War Memorials cannot be conclusively identified and is something of a mystery. No one of this name has been found in Little Gaddesden Census returns or Parish Records and none of the possible CWGC Casualty Records name relatives in the Little Gaddesden area.
But there are some possibilities. On the basis of CWGC Records of casualties from the Machine Gun Corps, the Little Gaddesden James Dunn may be one of the following two men, even if their origins and places of enlistment make it unlikely:
(1) 98150 Private James Dunn, 238th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry
98150 Private James Dunn, 238th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), died of wounds on 20th September 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Panel 154 – 159
The first candidate James Dunn was born in Barony, Lanark and enlisted in Glasgow, initially serving as a Private with service no. 34972 in the Highland Light Infantry. He has a Prisoner of War record, which lists him “disparu et blessé” i.e. missing and injured, on 20th September 1917 and gives his next of kin as his wife, Mrs Jessie Dunn, 181 Glebe Street, Townhead, Glasgow.
(2) 57662 Private J Dunn, 196th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
57662 Private J Dunn, 196th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), died of wounds on 13th February 1917 and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Plot XI. A. 22A.
The second candidate James Dunn was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire and enlisted in Rugby, initially serving as a Private with service no. 20446 in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” entry names his widow, Clara (née Sutton). They had married, both aged 25, on 5th October 1914 at St Matthew’s Church, Rugby. Their son Joseph Sidney was born on 20th August 1915 and baptised on 11th September 1915, when his family address was 2 Round Street, Rugby.
We know that the Little Gaddesden James Dunn is not 39271 Serjeant J Dunn, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) whose Christian name is confirmed as John in his British Army Service Record.
Nor can he be 140419 Private J J Dunn, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) whose Medal Roll Index Card names him John J Dunn, and whose entry on the Forces War Records site names him as John Jackson Dunn.
It may alternatively be that Little Gaddesden’s James Dunn is one of the several other James Dunns listed in the CWGC’s casualty records who were, for whatever reason, not indicated as being members of the Machine Gun Corps. One such was…
(3) 12476 Private James W Dunn, 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
12476 Private James W Dunn, 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, who was killed in action aged 22 on 10th July 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, Pier and Face 2c.
James William Dunn, son of William Thomas Dunn of Doohat, New Bliss, County Monaghan, Ireland was born in 1894 in Aghabog, County Monaghan. When he enlisted, his home address was Doohat, County Monaghan but he must have been resident and working in Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire, as he enlisted into the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hertford. He first served overseas with 6th Battalion in France on 30th July 1915 and was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal.
Could he have served initially in the Machine Gun Section of his battalion, but remained in the Bedfordshire Regiment when Machine Gun Sections were transferred into the Machine Gun Corps? With his father in Ireland, accurate details of his war service may not have been known in Little Gaddesden.
Unfortunately we have insufficient information to determine which of these men is the James Dunn commemorated on the Little Gaddesden War Memorials, or whether it is someone else of the same name. The mystery is — as yet, at least — unsolved.
If you have any information that might help us to establish the circumstances of Little Gaddesden’s James Dunn, please email Jane Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson