DUNN, Hugh Thomas Thoburn
(Service number 42483)

Aliases Tom
First Rank Private Last Rank


Date 1897 Place of Birth

Enlistment Information

Date 3 January 1917 Age 20
Address at Enlistment Upper Junction, Dunedin
Occupation Farm labourer (for H Dunn, Dunedin)
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin H. Dunn (father), Upper Junction, North-east Valley, Dunedin
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5 foot 7 inches tall; ruddy complexion, brown hair, and blue eyes

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 23rd Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Regiment, D Company
Date 14 March 1917
Transport HMNZT 79 Ruapehu
Embarked From Wellington, N.Z. Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With 2 Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment
Last Unit Served With 3 Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European 1917-1918
Service Medals British War Medal, Vistory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 18 April 1919 Reason On termination of period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

4 October 1917 - Gunshot wound to the head (in the field); admitted 3 Field Ambulance, the transferred to 44 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS); 6 October - admitted to 22 General Hospital, Camiers; 12 October - transferred to UK, admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital; 19 October - transferred to convalescent hoispital at Hornchurch; 17 March 1918 - While convalescing appears to have been injured playing football while with the 3rd Reserve Battaliion; noted Dunn was not to blame, admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital, Codford, with a sprained ankle; discharged back to Depot on 2 April 1918. 18 July 1918 - Evacuated sick; discharged to unit on 20 July. 29 September 1918 - Wounded in the field (high explosive fragments to right thight); admitted to NZ Field Ambulance then 59 CCS; 30 September admitted to No.22 General Hospital, Camiers; 8 October 1918 - Evacuated to England; Admitted to No.2 NZ General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames.

Post-war Occupations


Date Age
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Hugh Thomas Thoburn (known as Tom) Dunn, born in 1897, was the son of Annie and Hugh Dunn. Tom grew up on a small dairy farm at Mount Cargill, Dunedin.

Tom entered military service on 3 January 1917, joining the 24th Reinforcements. He was described as being 20 years and three months old, 5 foot 7 inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. After almost two months of initial training, on 20 February, he was transferred to the 23rd Reinforcements. On 14 March 1917 Tom left New Zealand on the HMNZT Ruapehu, destined for Devonport, England. On arrival, on 21 May 1917, Tom marched into Sling, the training camp, with B Company, Otago Regiment. There he and his compatriots would have undergone some further training and conditioning before proceeding overseas (to France) one month later. There he was posted to 8 Company of the 3rd Otago Regiment on 9 July 1917.

On 4 October Tom was reported as wounded in action in the field, having received a gunshot wound to the head. He was initially admitted to 3 NZ Field Ambulance, before being passed to 44 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) later that day. Two days later he was admitted to 22 General Hospital, Camiers, before being shipped back to the UK on 12 October. On arrival he was admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst. After a week’s care there, Tom was transferred to the Hornchurch convalescent hospital on 19 October. A little under three weeks later he was attached to the convalescent depot at Codford for three months. He returned to Sling camp in February 1918, no doubt in preparation for return to active service when he sprained his ankle playing football, resulting in several more weeks back at Codford. The officer in charge noted though that he was not to blame for the injury - in other words it was not a deliberate attempt to delay his return to service.

Tom was taken back onto the strength of 3 Reserve Battalion (Otago Infantry Regiment) at Sling at the end of April until 2 June when he again left for France, marching into Etaples two days later. After a three day wait Tom joined the Entrenching Battalion, remaining with them for about five weeks (until 18 July), when he was evacuated sick. After spending two days with 48 Field Ambulance he was discharged back to the Entrenching Battalion for a further five weeks, after which he was returned to 8 Company of the 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment on 27 August. A month later he was wounded for the second time on 29 September 1918. Admitted to the NZ Field Ambulance, then 59 CCS, before returning to 22 General Hospital at Camiers on 30 September. Just over a week later he was transferred back to England where he was admitted to No.2 NZ General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames. It appears, from a Medical Board report of 4 January 1919, Tom’s second wound was as a result of high explosive fragments - this time to his right thigh that had left him with a weakened leg and some ache when walking. It was felt the disability would not be permanent, but would take at least a month to recover - and at worst leave him with less than 20% disability.

While recovering from this wound the war came to an end. So, on 3 February 1919 Tom embarked for return to New Zealand aboard the Athenia. Following his arrival he was finally discharged on 18 April 1919. Service in New Zealand 98 days, plus overseas service of 2 years and 8 days, making for a total service of 2 years and 106 days. For his service he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal, which were issued on 25 May 1922.

After the war Tom married Dorothy Margaret Batchelor, also from Dunedin, in 1922. They moved to South Canterbury, where they bought a small dairy farm in Clandeboye and became involved in the local community. Tom was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and served as a Session Clerk in the Orari Parish, while Dorothy became the first President of the Clandeboye branch of the Women's Division of Federated Farmers. The couple had five sons.

In 1927, when times were particularly tough on the farm as depression began to settle in, the Dunns bought a town milk delivery business from the McGillivray family in Washdyke, Timaru. Tom's day would begin at 2:30am, taking milk at first by horse and dray (and later in his Dodge truck) for house-to-house delivery around Timaru. Later milk was taken for bottling at the McGillivray plant at Washdyke, 20 miles away. Meanwhile, at home, Dorothy would milk the cows single-handed. In 1930 another opportunity arose when a small Timaru ice cream company got into financial difficulties, leaving a debt for milk and cream supplied by Tom Dunn. The Dunns took over the business, and the Supreme Ice Cream Company was registered in August 1931 - the company went on to become a nationally recognised brand. Both businesses ultimately proved successful as a result of the entire family's hard work. All of the Dunns' five sons (Tom Jr, Harold, Lloyd, Murray and Max) were involved in the business at various times, initially in milk and ice cream manufacturing, sales and distribution, but as the business expanded also in vegetable growing and harvesting, frozen foods processing, management, sales and distribution, and refrigeration engineering. In 1937, the family moved off the farm and into Timaru.

Tom's family recall he was a man of strong Christian principles and took his community responsibilities seriously. He was an executive member of the NZ Milk Marketing Board and the Canterbury & West Coast Ice Cream Manufacturers' Assn, and a member of the South Canterbury Manufacturers' Assn and the Employers' Assn. He was a member of Rotary for many years, was involved in local Boy's Brigade, including a term as National President. He was a very active member and Elder of St Paul's Presbyterian Church, serving as Session Clerk for 17 years.

Tom retired in 1963 when General Foods Corporation took over the ice cream business. He had returned to Dunedin by the time he passed away on 4 March 1972.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [18 October 2022]; NZ Military Personnel file, courtesy of Archives NZ. record number 0036216 [accessed 24-25 October 2022]; "Supreme: Tom & Dorothy Dunn" on the NZ Ice Cream Association website at [accessed 18 October 2022]; SCRoll submission by M Dunn, 13 October 2022 [in-person]

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Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin, South Canterbury Museum

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