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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

JonT

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  1. William Dunne 141638, Corporal, South African Engineering Corps Williams father, Michael, was an ex-soldier who had served in the Anglo-Boer war but subsequently worked on the mines near Johannesburg. William was one of three brothers and all three volunteered for service. William was 23 and single when the war broke out and living with his parents at the married quarters of Knights Deep Gold Mine near Johannesburg and working there as an electrician. He joined the South African Engineers on 22 June 1940 and became Corporal after a year or so. They left South Africa on 10 June 1941 and landed in Egypt 20 June 1941. They joined the forces fighting the Germans and Italians in North Africa. He went missing on 20 June 1942 and was confirmed a prisoner of war on 28 July 1942. The 20 June 1942 was the fall of Tobruk - Rommel capturing a huge number of South Africans in that action which lasted two days – well described on many websites. I think most South African prisoners of war were captured at Tobruk and then taken to Italy. The army records simply say he was “shot whilst POW – Europe” on 23/24 September 1944. In the confusion after Italy surrendered - September 1943 - and Germany took control I understand it was not that difficult to escape – so I’m guessing he did so at this time. He joined some partisans in the mountains (Grappa – not far from Venice) and lived(fought?) with them for a year before being caught up in an operation by the Germans to clear out this area. A number of atrocities were committed and documented in a book “Il massacro del Grappa” by Sonia Residore and published in 2008 (in Italian only). Some 286 partisans, civilians, allied soldiers were killed. Of these 19 being taken to a small town Carpanè and shot near the railway lines. On October 4 2008 the mayor of Carpanè put a memorial, at the place of shooting, in memory of every soldier killed – including William Dunne – my great uncle. Unfortunately I do not have his medals but have some photo’s (that I seem unable to upload as too large).
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