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Saturday, January 12, 2008

John Dudman

John Dudman contributed a number of features to Look and Learn in the 1970s and is credited with a handful of books, although his main career was as a journalist. He spent more than 25 years as the deputy foreign editor of the Daily Telegraph until his retirement in 1986, although he continued to write obituaries, travel articles and features about West Country industries.

The son of a quantity surveyor, John Maurice Dudman was born on January 25, 1925, and educated at Chichester High School. He worked for an estate agent before joining the staff of the Bognor Regis Post. He spent the last few yeasr of the War with the Royal Corps of Signals in Europe, returning on demob. to the Post before joining the Herald Express in Torquay. There he met a Western Morning News reporter, Jean Bess, whom he married.

In 1951, Dudman joined Reuters news agency as a parliamentary reporter before switching to general news, covering the Canvey Island floods, the Harrow train crash and achieved a notable scoop when he saw the police picking up John Christie for the murders at 10 Rillington Place. He also reported on the Coronation, visits from Soviet leaders and, in Dusseldorf, the murder trial of Sergeant Frederick Emmett-Dunne. He was encouraged by Reuters to open an office in Bucharest and subsequently reported from Moscow.

In 1959, and by now with two sons to support, he joined the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph obituarist praised Dudman as "One of the anonymous deskmen upon whom all newspapers depend, [he] kept on top of the day's major stories, made clear decisions and was ever alert to the possibility of a significant event lurking behind the wooliest news agency report or incoherent tip."

Dudman penned a number of educational books for children, including The Division of Berlin (1987), The Sinking of the Titanic (1987), The San Francisco Earthquake (1988), Earthquake (1992), Volcano (1992) and The Trembling Earth (1996). He also wrote a biography of Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathic medicine, which remains unpublished.

Dudman died in Devon in January 2002 at the age of 77.

(* Much of the above information is derived from the obituary for Dudman that appeared in the Daily Telegraph, February 20, 2002.)

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