Sergeant John Henry ‘Ian’ Dunn 21 OTU RAF

John Henry Dunn was was known as Ian to his family was born in 1924 to William and Isobel Dunn in Durweston as his father was Head Groom to Lord Portman. At school he was known as ‘Scotchy’ as his father was Scottish. A notable athlete, he was quite obviously the best in his school year as the sports day results from 1940 show.

Ian claimed first place in the Senior Cross Country event, the Senior School Mile, 880 yds, 440 yds, 220 yds, 100 yds, Hurdles, Long Jump and High Jump. As the Western Gazette put it: “Dunn won practically all the senior boys’ events.”

w gazz june 21 1940

The Dorset OPC includes a story from an old boy who came second to Ian in many of the events, Colin Kaile “.. an excellent boxer.. remembers him picking up 10/- for lasting 3 rounds at a travelling boxing booth. The boys always said that they had no chance on Sports Day competing against “Scotchy” Dunn.

After joining the RAF Ian trained as a Bomb Aimer and was posted to 21 OTU for final training before going on operations.

w gazz may 12 1944
Western Gazette May 12 1944

Source: NAA : A705, 166/5/507.
Aircraft Type: Wellington Serial number: LN 878 Radio call sign: Unit: 21 Operational Training Unit RAF
Summary: Wellington LN 878 of No 21 Operational Training Unit RAF took off from RAF Station Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, on a day cross country exercise on 24 April 1944. The last known position of the aircraft was a fix which placed LN 878 80 miles east of Hull. The aircraft failed to return to base after the exercise.
Subsequent reports show that the Wireless Operator had contacted numerous stations during the trip and was well up to his job. He would have taken correct action in distress had he had time. There was no evidence to show how the aircraft became lost. From the way the plot faded suddenly there is a strong possibility that it had been shot down by enemy fighters. Subsequent searches found no trace of the missing aircraft or crew.


  • RAAF 414456 Sgt J.G.Beilby, Pilot.
  • RAAF 432219 Sgt M.D.MacFarlane, Navigator.
  • RAF Sgt J.M.Dunn, Air Bomber.
  • RAAF 425885 Flt Sgt E.A.Nayler, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.
  • RAF Sgt W.Lane, Air Gunner.

Following post war enquiries and investigations it was recorded in 1949 that the missing crew had lost their lives at sea. Ian  is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Durweston Memorial and the Blandford School Memorial. Whilst the school memorial lists him as I W Dunn, the reason we can be certain that J H Dunn and I W Dunn refer to the same man is because in the 1939 Register, his parents are shown as living at Knighton stables and although [Jan 2021] his name is still redacted in the register, he is J H Dunn on the Durweston Memorial and J H Dunn is the only remotely suitable casualty on the CWGC database matching his death dates as published in the newspaper.

Panel 228 Runnymede Memorial

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