Donald Dean lied about his age to enlist in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1915 and serve on the Western Front, where he worked his way up from Private to acting Captain. Severely wounded at Passchendaele in 1917, Dean’s account of the battle for ‘Tower Hamlets’ is a gripping account of the horror of trench warfare. Recovered from his wounds, it was in the last weeks of the war, late in September 1918, that Dean won his VC for leading a platoon in the determined defence of a recently-captured and isolated trench against repeated German counterattacks. In one of these attacks, the Germans actually broke into the trench, forcing Dean to break off a call for artillery support with the words, ‘The Germans are here, goodbye!’ Refusing to be overrun, he personally killed four of the Germans and the position was held.
Dean also served in World War II as a senior officer in the Pioneer Corps. He witnessed the fall of France in 1940 and claimed to be the last British soldier to escape from Boulogne. His frank account of the evacuation challenges some cherished conceptions and is very critical of the conduct of the Welsh Guards in particular. Dean describes his distinguished service in Madagascar, Sicily and the Italian mainland up to and beyond the German surrender. When he died in 1985, Colonel Dean was the longest surviving recipient of the Victoria Cross from the Trenches.
Terry Crowdy was granted complete access to Dean’s private letters and diaries, never previously published, adding additional notes and material from official reports to give the reader context. The result is a moving, often amusing and inspiring portrait of a hero of two world wars.
He has produced a portrait of an outstanding Territorial which is also an illuminating study of how to command men in battle. It would bear reading by modern soldiers who seek to lead.The Society of Friends of the National Army Museum, Summer 2012
This book contains two very different memoirs written by the same man. Donald Dean served on the Western Front during the First World War, winning the Victoria Cross for defending an advanced position during the... [read full review]History of War
"The Germans are here, goodbye!" Those were the words of Donald Dean to his commander as enemy soldiers broke into his trench in 1918. The son of a Sittingbourne brick maker, Dean lied about his... [read full review]Britain at War
A veteran of the First World War, where he was awarded VC for his actions in holding an isolated trench, Donald Dean inspired his command with his own contempt of danger, which runs through this... [read full review]reenacting ww2
Includes never before published letters and some of his diary entries. Mr Crowdy said: "With the recent death of the last Tommy from the Great War, Donald Dean's account of trench warfare on the... [read full review]Medway Messenger
Based on his own fragmentary notes and writings, Donald Dean VC, or 'Dogsbody Dean' as he was occasionally wont to call himself, as an often illuminating study of one man's journey through two world wars,... [read full review]Steve Snelling Eastern Daily Press Jan 2011
Donald Dean‘s story is a quite remarkable one. Spanning two world wars, and the small matter of Britain’s highest honour for bravery, there can’t be many tales out there quite like this.
What I... [read full review]Daly History Blog
"The Germans are here, goodbye!" Those were the words of Victoria Cross hero Donald Dean to his commader as enemy soldiers broke into his trench in 1918.
The story is told in a... [read full review]This is Kent
The son of a Sittingbourne brick maker, Donald Dean lied about his age to enlist in 1915. Working his way up from Private to acting Captain in the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, Dean... [read full review]Spartacus Educational
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About Terry Crowdy
Terry Crowdy is the author of several books, most recently the internationally acclaimed The Enemy Within: a History of Espionage (which earned him interviews on national radio and has been translated into Chinese) and the successful Military Misdemeanours.
He lives in Rainham, Kent.
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