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  • Christina Drummond

Fusilier Dennis Donnini V.C., 4th/5th Battalion, The Royal Scots Fusiliers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1945, Fusilier Dennis Donnini V.C, 4th/5th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, was killed during Operation Blackcock when his platoon was ordered to attack the small village of Stein in Selfkant, Germany, close to the Dutch border. They came under heavy fire from the enemy hiding out in one of the houses, and Fusilier Donnini was wounded in the head. After recovering consciousness, and although bleeding profusely, he charged 30 yards down the open road and hurled a grenade into the house, from which the enemy fled pursued by the survivors of the platoon. Fuslier Donnini was wounded a second time, but continued firing his Bren gun until he was killed after the grenade he was carrying was hit by a bullet and exploded. His gallantry enabled his comrades to overcome twice their own number of the enemy – thirty German soldiers and two machine guns.

One of his brothers had been a POW since 1940, and the other had been killed in 1944; his two sisters were with the ATS. His father, an Italian, had been interned although he had lived in England with his Scottish wife for more than forty years - it was said that he remained detained until being released at the behest of King George VI, whom he met after he was granted leave to receive his son’s posthumous Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace. Fusiier Donnini stood 4’10” tall, at the time his height was just acceptable for the British Army, and he was the youngest soldier in the Second World War to be awarded the VC.

Dennis, from Easington in Co. Durham, was 19 years old.

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