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War hero who had a passion for hunting

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

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Sir Robin Dunn, who died on March 5 at the age of 96, started life as a regular soldier, being commissioned in 1938 from the RMA Woolwich (where he won the Sword of Honour) into the Field Artillery.

He was evacuated on the last day of Dunkirk in 1940, served with the RHA in the Western Desert and Libya and landed on D-Day in 1944 in Normandy, winning the MC. A month later he was wounded for the third time, returning to his regiment the following October in time for the fierce battles along the German frontier. He ended the war in command of an RHA battery in Germany. He was twice mentioned in dispatches.

In 1948 he retired from the Army and was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, practising in London and on the Western Circuit. In 1962 he became a QC and deputy chairman of Somerset Quarter Sessions until their abolition in 1971.

In 1969 he was appointed a High Court Judge attached to the Family Division. He was Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit from 1974 to 1978 and Lord Justice of Appeal from 1980 until his retirement in 1984. He was appointed Honorary Colonel Commandant RA in 1980, which gave him much pleasure.

Sir Robin's connection with West Somerset started in 1940 when, after Dunkirk, he was an instructor at the Battle School then in Minehead. While hunting with the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds he met Judy Pilcher, daughter of Sir Gonne and Lady Pilcher of Lynch, Allerford. They were married in 1941, exactly one month before Sir Robin sailed for the Middle East.

After the war, although they were obliged to have a house in London, they spent all their holidays and many weekends at Lynch, which they always regarded as home and where they brought up their family Jennifer, Allan and Janie. Both shared a love of hunting and Exmoor and Sir Robin rode regularly in point-to-points during the 1950s.

Sir Robin took an active part in local affairs. He was for 18 years chairman of the National Trust local advisory committee for Dunkery and Winsford Hill and later president of the Minehead and West Somerset Group. He was an active member of the Selworthy PCC, organising restoration of the church. A forthright and unashamed supporter of hunting, he served for many years on the committee of the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds to whom he acted as honorary legal adviser. He was also a director of The Badgeworthy Land Company, a charitable trust for the preservation of Exmoor.

With his love of Exmoor, it was not surprising that Sir Robin should have retired at the comparatively early age of 66 years, when he was sufficiently active to continue to hunt until he was 80. By that time Lynch had been sold and Sir Robin and Lady Dunn moved to nearby Lynch Mead where Sir Robin created a semi-wild woodland garden by the River Aller, which he called The Secret Garden. At the same time becoming increasingly active in the politics of hunting through his membership of the executive committee of the British Field Sports Society.

Judy died in 1995, and in 1997 he married Joan Dennehy whose mother was a mnember of the Acland family.

Sir Robin is survived by his wife, his daughter Janie Clifford and her four children and four great-grandchildren. His eldest daughter Jennifer died following a motor accident in 1964 and his son Allan in 2001.

The funeral takes place at All Saints' Church, Selworthy, today.

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