After my exciting day in Lewes last week seeing the Queen, I began to wonder if any of my family experienced meeting royalty. I got out my history books and discovered that King George VI was in Italy, visiting the troops in World War 2 at the same time as my father (Gordon Charles Dinnis) was also in Italy.
I found the photo (above) in an old book of my mother’s (The Life and Times of King George VI 1895-1952). The caption below the photograph reads:
“From Naples the King flew to General Alexander’s camp and in the ensuing days covered many hundreds of miles by air and road. His journeys by road were made in an open car so that the men could see him, and he made it his business to talk with as many commanders and men as time permitted. On 30 July 1944 His Majesty visited 5 Corps and had tea in the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. which he is seen leaving accompanied by some of the Corps’ officers.”
The previous page states that on 22 July His Majesty flew to Naples for a nine-day tour of the Italian battle-fronts. On 24th July, accompanied by Admiral Sir John Cunningham, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet the King inspected allied naval units in Naples Bay.
At this time we know Gordon Charles Dinnis was in Italy. There are two letters in the collection around this time, one sent in April 1944, the next in September of that year. Both these letters were sent from hospitals as Gordon was injured twice in separate incidents. Gordon spent some time in the first hospital in Sicily, from where he sent this letter written on April 29 1944.
“My Dear Mum,
Well Mum, once again I’m going to try and make this an interesting letter, but I have very little news to tell you. I am still in hospital and getting along very well. I wrote a letter to you two days ago telling you all the news, but will give you the little bit of extra news in this. I was transferred over a week ago to a hospital in Sicily, and that’s where I am now. I thought that would surprise you, and it did me too. Especially when we were told we were going by air. I wonder if you can imagine what I felt like as I sat in the plane waiting for it to take off. It certainly is something I’ll never forget. But there was no need to worry, as it’s just like riding in a train or but. It was a wonderful sight too, looking down on the fields and towns below us. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the return journey very much.
I have now been in hospital 17 days and I feel a lot better now. I think I shall soon be out now, and then I go to a rest camp for a short period.”
So we know Gordon would have been in between his hospital stays during July when the King visited the troops. I do hope my father managed to see King George, it might have brightened up his day and boosted his spirits for a while.