June 24 – John Spencer Dunville VC

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For most conspicuous bravery near Epehy, France, on 24th and 25th June, 1917. Second-Lieutenant John Spencer Dunville, 1st Royal Dragoons.

“For most conspicuous bravery near Epehy, France, on 24th and 25th June, 1917. When in charge of a party consisting of scouts and Royal Engineers engaged in the demolition of the enemy’s wire, this officer displayed great gallantry and disregard of all personal danger. In order to ensure the absolute success of the work envtrusted to him, Second-Lieutenant Dunville placed himself between an N.C.O. of the Royal Engineers and the enemy’s fire, and, thus protected, this N.C.O. was enabled to complete a work of great importance. Second-Lieutenant Dunville, although severely wounded, continued to direct his men in the wire cutting and general operations until the raid was successfully completed, thereby setting a magnificent example of courage, determination, and devotion to duty to all ranks under his command. The gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds.”

Second Lieutenant John Spencer Dunville VC (1896-1917), had been a member of the Officer Training Corps at Eton from May 1912 to July 1914.

He passed matriculation for Trinity College, Cambridge, but joined the army instead, initially serving as a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Cavalry Reserve Regiment. In April 1915 he applied to join the Royal Flying Corps and was accepted, but his course of instruction in aviation was cancelled a few days before he was due to start.

He transferred to the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and went to France in June 1915. There he took part in the Battle of Loos in September 1915, and transferred to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons in January 1916. In April he contracted trench fever and was invalided to England. He returned to France in December 1916.

In June 1917, while he was serving in the 1st (Royal) Dragoons, he died from wounds he received at Epehy in France. He was protecting an NCO of the Royal Engineers who was cutting wire which had been laid by the enemy. Although he was wounded by the enemy’s fire, he continued to direct his men until the wire-cutting operation had been successfully completed. He remained conscious but died from his wounds the next day.

The Victoria Cross which he was posthumously awarded was received by his father John Dunville from King George V at Buckingham Palace in August 1917. He was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal 1914-20 and the Victory Medal 1914-19.

 

John Dunville whose family owned the well-known Belfast distillery, was an early pioneer of competitive ballooning who took leave of absence from the family company of which he was chairman to join the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). He joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Flight Lieutenant in March 1915. He was promoted to Flight Commander in January 1916 and Squadron Commander in June 1917.

 

When he was promoted to Wing Commander he had four hundred and fifty officers and two thousand men under his command at the No. 1 Balloon Training Wing, Roehampton. He transferred as a Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel, Kite Balloon Officer, to the Royal Air Force in April 1918 and was demobilised in 1919. He was made a Commander of the British Empire for his services during the war. He used the title ‘Colonel’ from his earlier service in the Leinster Regiment.

 

There wil be a post at a later date on John Dunville

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