Butcher and war veteran James Dunning passes away

James Dunning, the writer, distinguished war soldier and former butcher, has died at the age of 95. 

A contributor to Meat Trades Journal for more than 20 years, his books included the 1988 publication ‘A Century of Service’, which chronicled the first 100 years of the Journal or, as he put it, ‘The story of the Meat Trades Journal and Cattle Salesmens Gazette’ (the organ of the British, Colonial and Foreign Live Stock and Dead Meat Trades) 1888-1988’.

Former MTJ editor Fred A’Court said “As with many brave wartime soldiers Jimmy Dunning came across as a modest, quiet and courteous man, who never mentioned his numerous roles as a commando during the Second World War, including one of the few successful attacks in the disastrous 1942 Dieppe invasion, which saw 60% of the commandoes killed, wounded or taken prisoner, and the loss of 108 RAF aircraft, a Royal Navy destroyer and 33 assault craft. His obituary in The Times gives a detailed account of his wartime service and the books he wrote about commando training and his wartime experiences.”

Dunning came from a family of butchers and he returned to the trade after leaving the army in 1958. In 1962 he was president of the Southampton Association of Meat Traders. Among his specially written features were centenary supplements on Smithfield Market and the New Zealand meat trade with Britain. Other articles included features on butchers in the army, on the liner QE11 and on Harrods Food Hall. He also wrote about butchers in Cyprus, Malta, France, Italy, Greece and even the Falkland Islands.

For several years he contributed regularly to the ‘Country Butcher’s Diary’. In 1985 he wrote what was probably his first full-length book ‘Britain’s Butchers - The Trade Through The Ages’ for Meat Trades Journal publications.

On completing ‘A Century of Service’ he admitted he would have liked twice as much time to research and write it, but the centenary couldn’t be put off!

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