PRIVATE WILFRED DUNN
BRITISH WEST INDIES REGIMENT
1ST MARCH 1918 AGE 26
BURIED: TARANTO TOWN CEMETERY EXTENSION, ITALY
Mrs Jemima Dunn has quoted from the Book of Samuel, substituting her son's name for that of King David's deeply loved son Absalom, his favourite child, who was killed fighting in a rebellion against his father. After he hears the news of his son's death,
"the king was much moved, and went up to the Chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
[2 Samuel 18:33]
It's a passage echoed in 'To You Who Have Lost', a poem by John Oxenham, (William Arthur Dunckerley 1852-1941), which was published during the war:
I know! I know!
The ceaseless ache, the emptiness, the woe, -
The pang of loss, -
The strength that sinks beneath so sore a cross,
" - Heedless and careless, still the world wags on,
And leaves me broken ... Oh, my son! my son!"
Wilfred Dunn came from Cassava River, a district of Glengaffe in Jamaica. He served with the British West Indies Regiment, formed during 1915 from Caribbean volunteers. Dunn was with the 11th battalion, like all the other battalions in the regiment a non-combatant labour battalion - an indication of the British government's reluctance to use coloured troops in combatant roles.
Dunn is buried in Taranto, a town on the southern tip of Italy. The town had been used by the Royal Navy since Italy entered the war on the Allied side in May 1915. After the summer of 1917, its importance increased greatly when it became the main port, at the end of the overland route from Cherbourg, for supplying men and materials to the war in the eastern Mediterranean. The British West Indies Regiment was used for loading and unloading vessels and numerous other labouring roles, much to the disappointment, and in some cases increasing dissatisfaction, of many of those who served in it. The cause of Dunn's death is not known.