Clive Dunn was one of the remaining stragglers from the war fighting generation.
Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn was born on January 9 1920 in London. He was educated at Sevenoaks, where he flirted with Fascism and joined the Black Shirts. He soon gave up the teenage political infatuation, however, and left school at 16 to try to find work in film. After failing to land a job as clapperboard boy, he attended the Italia Conti stage school in London, where he trained for his first stage part.
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Called up in 1940, Dunn joined the 4th Hussars and was eventually posted to Greece. He spent months in the Greek countryside doing his best to avoid the enemy, but was eventually captured by a German patrol. Dunn remembered two weeks as a prisoner near Corinth with “thousands of starving and dysentery-ridden British, Indians and Palestinians”. He was then transported to Austria. “We were packed into cattle trucks like rotten sardines, smelly from diarrhoea and dysentery, with no food, one petrol can for water and one for use as a latrine.”
The journey took seven days. On arrival at the PoW camp the prisoners gave the guards a list of their civilian employment. Dunn remembered that after so long without food, 70 per cent of the 2,000 men claimed to have been butchers or cooks.
Update:- My family loved Dad’s Army but I didn’t find Clive Dunn’s Lance-Corporal Jones funny. His part was slapstick – running about with his bayonet while shouting “don’t panic”. I preferred the diffident public school Sergeant Walker saying to Captain Mainwaring’s latest daft idea, “Do you think that’s wise, Sir?” and the sly allusions at his relationship with Mrs Pike. My mother liked the gentle, daffy Godfrey and the spiv Walker. Kids at school said my dad looked like Private “we’re all doomed” Frazer. And of course we loved the English village cosiness – as exotic to us as the Beverley Hillbillies.
In black and white