James William Dunn enlisted in Toronto on 1 November 1915 in the 123rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Royal Grenadiers. His regimental number was 766365. He gave his address as Streetsville P. O., Ontario, Canada, though a second address was added above the typed information showing him as being at 10 Bismark Avenue, Toronto. James gave his birthdate on his attestation papers as 14 September 1893, and indicated that he had been born in Colkirk, Norfolk, England. He was described as 5 feet 8 inches tall, with medium complexion, gray eyes and dark brown hair. His next of kin was listed as his mother, Sarah Dunn, of Weasenham, St. Peters, Swaffam, Norfolk, England. According to the 1911 Census for that area, James’s father, Oscar Dunn, was an innkeeper. James’ occupation was listed as a butcher, and he had never served in any military force.
It is difficult to determine exactly when James came to Canada. He appears with his family in the 1901 English Census, but not in the 1911 Census, although his parents are listed with their six children. James must therefore have immigrated to Canada between 1901 and 1915 when he enlisted. The problem is that the immigration records in that time period are brief and there are several persons with the same name. He may have come as a Home Child in 1909. As he gave a Streetsville address on his attestation form we may assume that he had lived there.
The 3rd Battalion CEF was formed in September 1914, at Valcartier, Quebec, from drafts from three Toronto units – the 2nd Regiment Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, the 10th Royal Grenadiers, and the Governor-General’s Bodyguard. In October 1914 the battalion sailed on the SS Tunisian for England, where they spent three and a half months in training before embarking for France in February 1915. James Dunn would have been sent to France with other enlisted men as reinforcements to the battalion.
James wrote a letter home to a family in Streetsville which was published in the Streetsville Review of 7 June 1917:
766365, 13 Platoon, D Company, 3rd Battalion, Canadians, France
Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Bailey:
A few lines to let you know all is well with me up to the present. We sure have some heavy fighting lately but we are blessed with good weather now, something like spring. Everything is looking nice and green the grass and grain is coming along fine. How is Jack and Frank getting along? Did they come out of the scrap all right? I don’t seem to be able to meet any of the old boys no matter where I go. We had a thanksgiving service on Sunday. It went off great but the sun was hot. It is about all that is doing. I see by the papers that meat is quite a price this summer. Does it affect the trade much? I suppose you will be getting busy by this time. I often wish I was back on the old wagon, but I am afraid it won’t be this season as it will be well into the fall before the war is ended by the look of things at present. Peace cannot come too soon to suit me. Well, I think this is all. Trusting all are well,
From yours truly,
J. W. Dunn
In the 1911 Canadian Census there is a James Edward Bailey, a farmer, and his wife, Sara, with their son, John, living at Lot 15, Concession 4, near Churchville. Perhaps James Dunn had worked for them. Churchville is about five miles from Streetsville.
The 3rd Battalion took part in the Second Battle of Arras in late August 1918. James was severely wounded on 31 August 1918 and died of his wounds. The Circumstances of Casualty for the Canadian War Graves Registers gives the following information:
Private James William Dunn, Regimental No. 766365, 3rd Battalion:
“Died of Wounds”
While holding a Lewis Machine Gun outpost near the Arras-Cambrai Road, he was seriously wounded by enemy shell-fire, receiving numerous wounds in the legs and body. He was given immediate attention by a stretcher bearer and evacuated to No. 3 Canadian Field Ambulance, where he died shortly thereafterwards.
James Dunn is buried in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Military Cemetery, in Arras, France.
He is also commemorated on the Streetsville War Memorial, south side.