TROOPER ALFRED DUNNE
11TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 17
BURIED: MENDINGHEM MILITARY CEMETERY, PROVEN, BELGIUM
Alfred Dunne's father, Frederick, chose his inscription. Alfred was the fourth of his seven sons to die during the war and a fifth was to die in February 1918. There is no evidence that the first, William Oscar Dunne, was a soldier when he died in Kingston, Surrey, but the other four were. Arthur was killed in action on 13 May 1915, Walter Edwin died of pneumonia on 18 October 1915, Alfred died of wounds in October 1917 and Montague died of wounds in February 1918. Frederick Dunne was entitled to call it a 'monstrous' world.
The inscription comes from Shakespeare's Othello, Act 3 Sc. 3, where it is spoken by Iago who, far from being direct and honest, is a scheming liar. So what can Major Frederick Dunne, a long-serving soldier who was promoted from the ranks at the outbreak of war, have meant by his choice? Is he questioning his reward for being a loyal subject? And does the fact that Alfred was only 17 when he died have anything to do with what sounds very much like bitterness?
The Surrey Advertiser, 27 October 1917 suggests further evidence for this view: in reporting Alfred's death it mentions that two of Major and Mrs Dunne's son-in-laws have also been killed in the war.
O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world,
To be direct and honest is not safe.
I thank you for this profit, and from hence
I'll love no friend, sith love breeds such offence.