Topic: John Robert Dunn

Topic type:

From research done in 2008 by Wairarapa College Year 12 history assignment on Wairarapa soldiers who died in World War One.

Full name: John Robert Dunn

Date of Birth: 22 November 1888
Serial number: 10/594
Occupation before enlistment: Journalist
First known rank: Private
Embarkation date: 16 October 1914
Place of embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Body on embarkation: Main body
Embarkation unit: Wellington Infantry Regiment
Last unit served: Wellington Infantry Regiment
Rank last held: Private
Place of death: Gallipoli, Turkey
Date of Death: 8 August 1915
Cause of death: Killed in action
Cemetery name: Chunuk Bair (N.Z.) Memorial

Biographical notes:

John (aka Jack) was born to Matthew and Sarah Dunn, recent immigrants, at Whakataki (near Castlepoint) in 1890. His given names, John and Robert, were the names of two infant brothers who had died on the voyage to New Zealand in 1876. He grew up on the family farm "Willowbank" and before enlisting was a reporter for newspapers in Levin, Masterton and Wellington.

By 21 August 1914 John was in Awapuni Training Camp near Palmerston North.

John Dunn was one of the twenty-eight New Zealand servicemen who were court-martialled during the First World War. He fell asleep at his post and was give the death sentence, to be shot. He was released to rejoin his unit and died with his mates in the last major Allied offensive on Gallipol, at Chunuk Bair. He is still there as one of the unknown dead. He was the first New Zealander in World War 1 to be sentenced to death by court martial, and the only one at Gallipoli.

"The diary of Private J. R. Dunn" is available to read in the book "Gallipoli, in search of a family story", by Pat White,  published by Red Roots in 2005.


Wairarapa Daily Times, 10 September 1915 "Private "Jack" Dunn, of Masterton, who is reportedly in to-day's casualty list as "believed to be killed" was a very popular resident of the town. He was about 26 years of age, and was a son of Mr M. Dunn, farmer, of Whakataki. For years past he had followed journalistic pursuits, and was a member of the literary staff of the "Wairarapa Daily Times" when he enlisted in the Main New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Previous to that he had been on the staffs of the "New Zealand Times" and Levin "Chronicle". In athletic circles Private Dunn was well and favourably known. He was a well-known runner. He had been a member of the Wairarapa Amateur Athletic Club, serving on the management committee of the club, and was secretary of the Masterton Harrier Club at the time he enlisted. He took a keen and active interest in football, and had played for the Red Star Club. He had also played a good deal  of cricket and hockey. The deceased was a very promising journalist, and had a bright career before him. He wrote several interesting letters to the "Wairarapa Daily Times" on the doings of the New Zealand troops at the front, the last appearing in our columns on Wednesday. The news of his death will be received with feelings of deep regret throughout the Wairarapa, and the sympathy of a wide circle of friends will be extended to the relatives in tehir bereavement."

Student researcher: Sarah-Jayne Hullena and Jess Clement




John Robert Dunn

First Names:John Robert
Last Name:Dunn
Place of Birth:Whakataki, Wairarapa, New Zealand