It was sad to hear on the news about the passing of British actor Clive Dunn at the age of 92. For those unaware of his legendary comedy status, he played Lance Corporal Jones in the British comedy “Dad’s Army”. It told the story of a rather clueless Home Guard unit in the small town of Warmington-on-Sea during the Second World War. I suppose I should have realised as I watched episodes on a Saturday tea-time with my dad that I’d be into History. I loved every detail of it, and although the comedy might be almost ‘too innocent’ for today’s teenage and young adult audiences, I still find them hilarious today. It seems time can’t age quality comedy.
Lance Corporal Jones was a Boer War veteran who wanted to do his bit for King & Country despite his advancing years. His catchphrases of “Don’t Panic” and “they don’t like it up them” are probably the most iconic from the programme. He was probably the most-loved character from the show, but Clive Dunn’s work is all the more remarkable when you learn he was only 48 when they began filming Dad’s Army. His ability to play the older guy so convincingly was a masterclass for any inspiring actor- I was genuinely shocked when I found out! I read a few obituaries of Clive Dunn this week, and other articles about Dad’s Army. It was interesting to hear of their backgrounds- Private Godfrey actually fought in the Great War, and others were genuinely involved in the war effort before filming Croft & Perry’s finest comedy programme.
Last Sunday was Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, when we remember those who valiantly gave their lives in sacrifice to this country. As a school, we spent a cross-curricular day with year 7 looking at lives of everyday soldiers during the Great War, and why it’s so important to remember almost 100 years on. We also took 30 Year 9 students to Ypres last month, to visit the trenches, experience something of life there for themselves and visit the cemeteries & places of memorial. It was, as always, a moving experience, and the service at the Menien Gate was both sobering and inspiring.
We quote from the famous poem “For the Fallen” that “age shall not weary them”, and it’s important that this is forever true. Dad’s Army may one day be forgotten, or rediscovered by another generation, but the service of soldiers, particularly those in both World Wars, must never be forgotten.