He was once proclaimed to be ‘Mr Know-It-All’ in a newspaper headline.

Rather unkind perhaps, but it was probably true of Cliff Dunkley as he was head of Oxford Information Centre.

He had to know the answers, or know where to find them, to all sorts of questions tourists and townsfolk asked.

How can we get hold of an old ambulance? What’s the gestation period for an elephant? When is Oxford’s egg feast? How can I trace a penfriend somewhere in Sussex?

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It was a matter of pride to Mr Dunkley and his staff that they would try to answer every query, however bizarre, with inexhaustible patience and ingenuity.

Mr Dunkley was well suited for the job as he had spent the early part of his working life as an Oxford police officer and knew the city well.

He joined Oxford City Police in 1938, but his career was quickly interrupted by war service.

Cliff Dunkley as a police officer

Cliff Dunkley as a police officer

He joined the Royal Artillery and after being commissioned, was transferred to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, taking part in the D-Day landings.

He was later attached to the Royal Corps of Military Police and organised a training school for specialists, engaged in the arrest of Nazi war criminals.

Resuming his police career in Oxford, he was called to Rose Hill on Easter Monday 1946 to investigate two men acting suspiciously in an air raid shelter near Singletree nursery.

He was stabbed in the stomach and lashed across the head with a bicycle chain. He chased the two men, but collapsed and was taken to the Radcliffe Infirmary, where he was given an immediate blood transfusion and later an operation. He was in hospital for six weeks.

Police investigating the attack later found an air pistol in the shelter.

Mr Dunkley was promoted to sergeant in 1954 and inspector five years later, retiring after 26 years in 1964.

The encyclopaedic knowledge of the city he had gained as a police officer gave him a clear advantage over his rivals for the job as City Information Officer.

The information office moved from its cramped space at the foot of Carfax Tower to the former Trustee Savings Bank offices at the corner of High Street and St Aldate’s.

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With more room, he and his staff were better placed to answer the 3,000 postal and 28,000 personal inquiries they received every year.

Later, the centre moved to even more spacious premises opposite the Town Hall. Sadly, the injuries Mr Dunkley suffered in the 1946 attack came back to haunt him, and ill health led to his early retirement as City Information Officer in 1980.

Mr Dunkley, who lived at Wytham with wife Jessie, died in 1987 aged 71, still suffering the effects of the stabbing.