Clive Dunn RIP

November 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm (BBC, comedy, Rosie B, TV, war)

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.

. . .

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.

Obituary here.

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 colour

In black and white


  1. Jim Denham said,

    Though it probably went on beyond its self-by date, at its best Dad’s Army was a superb show and sometimes quite moving.

    Now that Clive Dunn has gone, I think there’s only Ian Lavender (Pt Pike), Bill Pertwee (Warden Hodges), Frank Warren (The Vicar) and Pamela Cundell (Mrs Fox) left from the cast.

    Script-writer David Croft died last year, but I think co-writer Jimmy Perry is still alive.

    PS: What we wrote about it in 2008, on the 40th anniversary. The comments are intersting too:

  2. Robin Carmody said,

    Frank *Williams*, not Frank Warren. He’s someone different entirely …

    Clive Dunn was a staunch socialist, of course, and had many arguments with Arthur Lowe; I can never watch the episode ‘Man of Action’, in which Mainwaring declares martial law, because it was made in 1974 and I can’t help fearing that for Lowe – who according to Dunn said “why don’t they just shoot them?” when discussing the miners’ strike early that year – it would have been a form of wishful thinking.

    And re. that (heartbreaking) Orwell quote in the previous post, there’s that wonderful exchange in the last series, implicitly set later in the war, where Mainwaring says something like “things will be different after the war – people will have to work for their privileges”, Wilson replies “oh, I didn’t know you were a socialist” and Mainwaring glares “how dare you?”. People who’d never have seen themselves as socialists voting for socialism was essentially what 1945 was all about, but I can never forget that the episode was made in 1977 when everything was up for grabs again, and part of the programme’s audience would have been petrified that radical socialism rather than neoliberalism might come out on top and own the future …

    • Mike Killingworth said,

      I don’t know about Clive Dun’s politics, but Arthur Lowe was a socialist. Unlike Mainwaring, who is perhaps who you meant, Robin…

  3. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    The Palestinians in Dunn’s POW camp were of course Palestinian Jews of whom 1,700 were left behind on the beach at Calamata by the British to be captured.

    As they were ‘only’ pioneer companies (at this stage the British were still refusing to allow proper Jewish combat units) the Jews seem to have been given the very lowest priority for evacuation – which is IMO one of the most shameful episodes of that disastrously mishandled campaign

    They were however wearing British uniforms so as far as I can tell were covered by the Geneva Convention and seem to have mostly survived the war (although given that all British other ranks were quite legally subject to forced labour – something which you’d hardly know from all those old POW camp movies which almost exclusively are about officers – their experience of captivity would have been a pretty grim one).

    Interestingly while there are multiple sites dedicated to the Jewish Brigade Group that was formed later and fought in Italy the only one I can see that has anything much to say about the Palestinian Pioneers is this one:

  4. Jim Denham said,

    What the hell paul wey’s incoherent sub-Stalinist (“many russians regret losing the stabilising influence of communism”), and antisemitic drivel (“we must also ensure israel is broken up…and declared an illegal state”) has to with this thread I do not know.

    Re: Dunn’s socialism and Lowe’s Toryism:

    According to today’s Graun, “A socialist, he [Dunn] had occasional off-air clashes with Arthue Lowe…(who)…was an active Conservative and when Dunn was awarded an OBE, Lowe said he would accept only a higher honour from the Queen.”

  5. Robin Carmody said,

    Can someone please ban the semi-literate (hoaxer?) “paul wey”. Creepy.

  6. Jim Denham said,

    Thanks, Rosie for removing the horrible “Grandad” clip.
    … Oh Christ! It’s come back again!

  7. メンズファッション 激安 said,


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