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Dunville, Thomas Edward Wallen (1909-1940) | by sherborneschoolarchives
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Dunville, Thomas Edward Wallen (1909-1940)

Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who died in the Second World War, 1939-1945.


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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.


Details: Thomas Edward Wallen Dunville (1909-1940), born on 19 September 1909 at Havant, Hampshire, son of Thomas Edward Dunville (1870-1924) (also known as Thomas Edward Wallen), a music hall comedian, and Dora Wallen Dunville (née Cross) (1886-1977) of Highfield, Christchurch Road, Streatham, SW, of Springfield, Walditch, Dorset, and of 62 High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset.


Attended a school run by Colonel MacDonald, Amesbury, Hindhead, Surrey.


Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) May 1924-April 1926.


After leaving Sherborne he apparently went to South Africa. By 1930 he was living at Wargrave and described as a former pilot officer in the RAF. In 1939, he was living at Two Elms, Mayfield, Gardens, Staines, Surrey, and working as an internal combustion engine fitter.


WW2, Second Lieutenant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Died as the result of an accident while on active service in Egypt on 21 February 1941, aged 31.


Commemorated at:

Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt, 1. C. 7,-tho...


Sherborne School: War Memorial Staircase; Book of Remembrance; Westcott House roll of honour.


Information about Thomas Dunville's father, Thomas Edward Dunville (also known as Thomas Edward Wallen):

Yorkshire Evening Post, 21 July 1917:

‘From half-an-hour’s chat with Mr and Mrs T.E. Dunville, at the Leeds Empire, a few topics may be recalled. And first, about the comedian personally. You would hardly suppose him to be a nervous subject, yet he has been off work 18 months out of the past three years on account of nervous trouble, and it is not soley because of the petrol problem that he has practically abandoned the use of his motor car. Night driving in London did something to bring the trouble on, and so did a much too close experience of Zeppelin raids, in the days when the gas bags had thing their own way. Dunville has so little ease of mind in a moving vehicle that, he tells me, he must have walked hundreds of miles to military hospital concerts in one town and another, rather than ride in a motor car, or even by train.

Talking of the supposed elevation of the music hall public in recent years, Mr Dunville surprised me a little by remarking that he wasn’t quite so sure about it. As far as his own experience went, he tried, a few years ago, a few burlesque character songs – one concerning a stargazer, for example – which demanded a little more from the audience than the ordinary comic stuff, but he soon decided that that wasn’t what audiences wanted. Indeed, he had an impression – though he doesn’t think fit to act upon it – that even the broadest, old fashionedest sort of songs would still win a popular and perhaps a noisy sort of approval, at any rate with a large section of the public.

You would scarely think the comedian as old as he is. A maker of laughter, of course, has no right to be old, and generally he is careful to avoid such an impression, but as he placed no ban on the information, I may tell you that Thomas Edward Dunville will complete his half-century before the present month is out. He has been for some time in the period of life when people have to enter upon efforts of mental arithmetic before they can tell their ages to a year or so. In his case, an official request for information, not unconnected with military matters, led to a consultation of family records, and he found himself proved guilty of being two years older than he had previously admitted. But any way, he says he doesn’t feel more than thirty. Consequently, by the old rule, thirty is his age.

Incidentally, I made the acquaintance of Thomas Dunville junior, who is a strapping schoolboy. For once in a way he has been seeing the show, and he was graciously pleased to confess that he had enjoyed it. It was not always so. His father recalled the first occasion when the boy sat in front, and afterwards, when asked for his opinion, delivered the cutting criticism of a sleepy yawn.’


The Era, 26 March 1924:

'The sad death of Mr T.E. Dunville, whose body was found in the Thames at Caversham Lock, near Reading, on Saturday, has come as a great shock to the profession. Mr Dunville had been missing from his hotel in London since since Friday morning and Mrs Dunville was in Reading at the time of the discovery seeking information from the police. The inquest is to take place this afternoon. Mr Dunville (Thomas Edward Wallen) was born in Coventry in 1870, and was originally intended to be a clerk in the Rudge-Whitworth firm, but at the age of 17 he left home to go with a travelling pantomime (Cinderella) at a salary of £1 per week, his duties including the grooming of one of Cinder’s ponies. He had a hard time of it until 1889, when he prevailed upon the manager of the Victoria, Bolton, to let him do a trial turn on the Monday afternoon. He made an instant hit, sang six numbers, and through the good offices of Mr W.J. Ashcroft, who was also on the bill, was solidly booked, within a fortnight, for six months in the provinces. His first appearances in London were on June 30, 1890, at the Forester’s, Gatti’s and Middlesex, where he scored in ‘Lively on, Lively off’ and for over thirty years he was very popular in the principal London and provincial halls. As recently as last week he was appearing at the Grand Palace, Clapham. Among his most successful songs were ‘Accidents’, ‘Then the Band Played’, ‘The Postman’, ‘Pop Pop, Popperty, Pop’, ‘Dinky-Doo’, ‘Nuff Said’, ‘Bad Language’, ‘And the Verdict Was_’, ‘The Stormy Winds Did Blow’, and ‘The Hypochondriac’.'

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Taken on August 1, 2013