The United Diocese of Down And Dromore

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 Victoria Cross hero remembered by his home parish

Victoria Cross hero remembered by his home parish

Monday 26 June 2017

A young soldier from Co Down, who died in France 100 years ago, was remembered today in a service in the Church of St Philip and St James, Holywood. 

The soldier was 21 year–old John Spencer Dunville, second son of Colonel John and Mrs Violet Dunville of Redburn House in the town and today is the anniversary of his death.

It was on 26 June 1917 that Second Lieutenant John Dunville of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons died from his wounds after leading a party of soldiers to cut the barbed wire near the German lines near Epehy, France. Although wounded, he remained between the enemy’s fire and the engineers cutting the wire so that the mission was successfully completed.

Such was his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross which was received by his father John Dunville from King George V at Buckingham Palace in August 1917. The Victoria Cross VC is the highest British military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”. 

Although John Dunville is buried in Villiers Faucon Cemetery in France, there is an inscription on the memorial stone on the family grave in the old Priory Graveyard as well as part of a Ligustrum (privet) bush from his grave in France.

The organ in Holywood parish church was a gift from the family in memory of their son.

They also erected a memorial plaque which is situated near the choir stalls, where wreaths will be laid during the commemorative service on 26th June. A memorial stone, similar to one unveiled recently in Whitehall, London, will also be unveiled and dedicated. 

The vicar of Holywood, Canon Gareth Harron, said the service was a fitting tribute to the courage of John Dunville VC who died for his country at such a young age.

Members of the Dunville family along with the Mayor and Councillors of Ards and North Down Borough Council, local dignitaries and those interested in the history of John Dunville attended the service.

(With thanks to Betty McLaughlin)