Irish second World War veteran who was decorated for gallantry turns 100

Joe Dunne from Offaly won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Anzio in 1944

Film director John Ford: His son says he  got his   1942 film The Battle of Midway  past the military censors  by getting a private screening for President Franklin D Roosevelt, who said afterwards: “I want every American to see the film.”

Film director John Ford: His son says he got his 1942 film The Battle of Midway past the military censors by getting a private screening for President Franklin D Roosevelt, who said afterwards: “I want every American to see the film.”

Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 01:02

Irishman Joe Dunne received a message of congratulations from Prince William at the weekend. Prince William is the regimental colonel of the Irish Guards, the regiment that Mr Dunne joined after he turned 18 – he celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday.

He was born on June 8th, 1914, shortly before the start of the first World War.

Mr Dunne received a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his bravery as a non-commissioned officer at the Anzio beach head in Italy in January 1944.

The citation stated that Sgt Dunne led his platoon in staving off a German attack and then led them on a night mission where “he dashed forward and destroyed the enemy post, single-handedly killing the two Germans who were manning it.”

After the war, he remained in London where he married an Irishwoman Bridie Monaghan. She died in 1961 when the youngest of the couple’s five children was just two. He returned to live in his native Killurin, Co Offaly, in 1989.

Mr Dunne celebrated with his family in Killurin on Saturday followed by a party in Moate nursing home yesterday, where he has lived for many years. He had a stroke five years ago and is unable to speak, but otherwise he is in good health.

The number of veterans still alive is dwindling rapidly given the absent ranks of those who turned up to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day in northern France last Friday.

Collins Barracks held a Battle of Normandy re-enactment yesterday with re-enactors dressed as German, British and American soldiers. Among the weapons on display was a German MG340 machine gun of the type which caused huge loss of life to Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy.

Footage shot by the celebrated Irish-American film director John Ford of D-Day was also shown to a packed audience at Collins Barracks. Much of the footage could not be used because of the jerking movement of the boats which carried the equipment.

Ford had greater success with The Battle of Midway in 1942, a film based on the Pacific naval battle of the same name which became a huge success in the United States.

Ford’s grandson Dan Ford told the audience that his grandfather’s greatest achievement was getting the film past the military censors. He did so by getting a private screening for President Franklin D Roosevelt, who said after seeing it: “I want every American to see the film.”

Mr Ford also said much of the criticism levelled at his grandfather’s protege John Wayne for not serving in the second World War was unfair. Ford would taunt Wayne about not serving in the war as Ford had joined the navy and become a rear admiral. Dan Ford said Wayne was too old for the draft and had four young children by the time America entered the war, while Ford’s two children were by then adults.