LESLIE FINLAY DUN
This biography was written by Victoria Doran.
Leslie Dun was a well educated middle class young man from a Scottish background with a strong golfing connection, who died due to one lucky German shell strike during an otherwise rather quiet period on the Western Front.
Leslie Dun was born on 22 October 1893, the only son of Finlay Dun (1862-1928) and Ann Louise Robinson (1865-1938), at 14 Wellesley Terrace, Princes Park in Liverpool. He was followed in 1896 by a sister Helen Finlay Dun (1896-1983). The family lived in some comfort, usually employing 3 domestic servants.
The Dun family have been traced back to Leslie’s great grandfather, Finlay Dun (1795-1853) who was clearly from a prosperous Scottish family. He was born in Aberdeen and attended Perth Grammar School and Edinburgh University before pursuing his musical education in France and Italy. He returned to Heriot Row in Edinburgh’s new town where he became a very well known music teacher and player and occasional composer. With his wife Juliet White (1801-1876) he had a large family. His second son, John (1834-1909) became a banker, marrying Elizabeth Morrison (1833-1900) in Edinburgh in April 1861 before moving his family to Warrington, Lancashire where he became General Manager of the very important Parr’s Bank which had its headquarters there.
John and Elizabeth had 3 sons and 2 daughters. All 3 sons, Finlay (Leslie’s father), John Arthur Dun (1863-1939) and Robert Hay Dun (1870-1947) were educated at Loretto School (just east of Edinburgh) and then attended Oxford University. Whilst at Oxford they all obtained Blues by representing the university against Cambridge University at golf, sometimes more than in just one year.
This was no doubt due to expertise gained at what is now the Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake. Although living a considerable distance away in Warrington, John Dun was one of the founders of the club in 1869. Several other early members were also expatriate Scots looking for a place to resume playing Links Golf. The current 16th hole on the course is named ‘The Dun’ after John Dun.
Finlay Dun became a solicitor and married Ann Louise Robinson in early 1893. She was the youngest daughter of Peter Robinson (1816-1873) and Ann Yates (1820-???). Peter Robinson was a glass manufacturer in Warrington employing over 200 men in 1871, before his untimely death. So Leslie came from very prosperous families on both sides.
Initially Finlay and Ann lived in Princes Park, Liverpool, but by 1901 they had moved their family to Hoylake, possibly to be nearer the golf links.
After attending the Leas School, Hoylake Leslie followed his father and uncles to Loretto School in 1908 and then on to Trinity College, Oxford in 1912. He also became a member of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
Trinity College, Oxford from Wikipedia
He attended Leas School at the same time as the Sellars brothers, who were also members of the golf club. Eric Sellars was almost exactly the same age as Leslie so, no doubt, they knew each other well. Percy Lancaster was another who attended the Leas School and belonged to the golf club, though he was about 18 months older.
Whilst at Loretto he was a House Prefect and a Sergeant of Signallers in the Officer Training Corps (OTC). He was also an enthusiastic member of the University OTC, so it is unsurprising that he quit his studies on the outbreak of war and enlisted in the 10th (Scottish) Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment as Private 3063.
Liverpool Scottish cap badge
On 1 November 1914 he landed in Europe with his battalion. He did not participate in any serious action before he returned injured to England in December 1914 due to an unspecified accident that did not occur whilst on duty.
Once recovered his potential was recognised and he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 12 March 1915. He arrived back with his battalion in the Ypres area of Belgium on 2 July 1915. The battalion spent the next 3 months repairing trenches and guarding canal bridges, with occasional casualties but not taking part in any specific battles.
On 25 September 1915 he was listed in the London Gazette as promoted to Temporary Captain, backdated to 17 July.
Three days later he was checking the small group of soldiers guarding canal bridge 12 with Captain Donald MacLeod (of Oxton) who was another member of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, though rather older than Leslie, when both officers were killed instantly by the same high velocity shell. Leslie was 21 years old.
He is buried in Brandhoek Military Cemetery at Ypres, Belgium.
Brandhoek Military Cemetery
His grave bears the symbol of the King’s Liverpool Regiment.
Grave of Captain Leslie Finlay Dun, Liverpool Scottish
He is well commemorated being remembered on Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; the Leas School Roll of Honour (now in St Hildeburgh’s church, Hoylake); Loretto School Memorial Chapel Roll of Honour; Trinity College, Oxford Roll of Honour; Royal Liverpool Golf Club Roll of Honour. Interestingly, he not listed in any of the local churches.
Despite being 53 years old, Leslie’s father Finlay served also volunteered and served as an officer in the Liverpool Scottish. He was gazetted a Captain on 3 September 1915. He served in a Provisional Battalion, that is one which was charged with Home Defence, so he never served overseas and so was not awarded any medals. From November 1917 he was at home in Hoylake as he signed on as a ‘searcher’ for the Red Cross. This involved looking for missing soldiers in hospitals.
Helen Finlay Dun’s Red Cross record card
His sister, Helen, worked part time in The Chalet VAD Hospital in Hoylake caring for injured and sick soldiers under the auspices of the Red Cross from early 1915 to the end of the war. In 1926 she married a solicitor, Hugh Berenger Kendall and had 2 sons and a daughter who survived childhood.
Leslie’s uncle, John Arthur Dun, had also moved to Hoylake. He never seems to have held gainful employment, but from January 1915 he was Secretary and Treasurer to the Red Cross Hospitals in the area, effectively managing the non medical aspects. He also worked as a searcher from November 1917.
As he became Chief Justice in Sudan before the war, Leslie’s other uncle Robert Hay Dun was probably in Sudan throughout. He eventually retired to Hoylake.
With Leslie’s death the male line of his grandfather’s branch of the Dun family died out as neither of his uncles ever married.
His mother had a brother and 3 sisters, but they only had 2 daughters between them, and neither of them ever married, so the complete line of all his grandparents is now only represented by his sister Helen’s descendants.
Birth: 22 Oct 1893 at 14 Wellesley Terrace, Princes Park, Liverpool
Death: 28 Sep 1915 at Ypres, Belgium; hit by a high velocity shell
Addresses: 35 Cable Road, Hoylake (01); Felsberg, Morpeth Road, Hoylake (14)
Occupation: student at Oxford University
Unit: 10th (Scottish) Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment
Number and Ranks: 3063, Private; Temporary Captain
Medals: 14 Star, Victory & British War
Buried & Commemorated: Brandhoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium; Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; Leas School Roll of Honour; Loretto School Roll of Honour; Trinity College, Oxford Roll of Honour; Royal Liverpool Golf Club
Sources: CWGC, MC, DA, Census: 01, BR, PR, Probate, LS, RL, RCV, DR, Dictionary of National Biography, Royal Liverpool Golf Club records, Oxford Men & their Colleges 1880-1892, Battalion Diary for 10th KLR