Lt. Col. Frederick Alfred Dixon, CMG, DSO.Lt. Colonel Frederick Alfred Dixon, 2nd son of John Picken Dixon and Alice Mary Dixon, was born on 27th March, 1880, at The Mount, Marton, near Blackpool, and died on 18th January 1925, at Bramley Mead, Whalley, after a three month's illness, though he had not enjoyed robust health for a number of years.
He was educated at Rossall, and later became a Director of the firm of John Baines Ltd. who controlled three large mills in Blackburn.
Colonel Dixon had a distinguished military career beginning in 1899 when he obtained a subaltern's commission in the 2nd West Lancashire Volunteer Artillery and served in the following year in the Tipperary Artillery. He was gazetted to the R.F.A. in 1901 and then obtained a regular commission in the Indian army, joining the 25th Battery R.F.A. in 1902. The next year he won the tent pegging, and heads and posts competitions, open to the whole of the British Army in India. In 1908 he got his jacket in the R.H.A., P. Battery.
In addition to his army career Colonel Dixon was a keen sportsman and in hot weather when there was no home leave he would go off big game shooting and did a number of interesting expeditions, records of which he kept by diary and photographs.
While on home leave in 1908 he married Ethel Howard Coulston. She had been orphaned at a very early age and had been brought up by her father's sister, Mrs. Fielding - (Aunt Sally) who had been twice married but had no children of her own. Colonel and Mrs. Dixon returned to the regiment in India, and while there she accompanied him on some of his shooting trips.
In 1910 he had to relinquish his commission, due to his father's serious illness, and they returned to England where he joined the family business.
They had four children as follows:-
|Joan Howard||Born 29 August 1910 (Mrs. Charles Robert Douglas Gray)|
|Grace||Born 22 March 1912 (Mrs. Kenneth Fisher)|
|Daphne Howard||Born 10 June 1917 (Mrs. John Brackenbury)|
|Frederick John||Born 20 October 1918. Killed in action Battle of Britain (RAF). His body was recovered and buried at Abbeville, and his name is on the Dixon family vault at Marton.|
Frederick Dixon, on the outbreak of the 1914 War, immediately volunteered for service with the Colours, despite the fact that his health was by no means good and, at the request of Lord Derby, was instrumental in raising the Palatine 150th Brigade R.F.A. in February 1915. He was first adjutant of this new arm of the service, then a battery commander, and within a very short time was appointed to command the brigade which he took to France early in 1915. On his birthday in 1915 he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and, at the age of 35, was probably the youngest gunnery Lt. Colonel in the British army.
Whilst in training at St. Anne's on Sea, Colonel Dixon invented a dummy gun which was used for training his own gunners and subsequently, the whole of the British artillery until guns were available.
The 150th Brigade was attached to the 30th Division and fought in all the battles in which the Division took part up to January 1917 when the 150th was merged under fresh organisation into the Army R.F.A..
On being detached from the 30th Division, Colonel Dixon was especially thanked by the G.O.C. who expressed the opinion that the Division was poorer for the loss of a Brigade which was second to none as a fighting unit. His command was now considerably extended and he took part in practically every battle from then onward. His keenness was such that on Armistice Day his Brigade was further forward of any British Artillery in his portion of the line. Considerable advantage was gained by the use of the 'box Barrage' which he initiated.
In spite of bad health he never admitted to being anything but fit and in many of the battles he directed the fire of his Brigade lying on a stretcher doubled up with pain but refusing to report sick. He was five times mentioned in despatches and received his DSO in 1917 in recognition of conspicuous gallantry in the field, and was made a Companion of St. Michael and St. George in 1919.
At the annual re-union of the 150th Brigade in 1921 Colonel Dixon was presented with a silver tray from the Officers, NCOs and men of the Brigade as a token of esteem and appreciation of his commandership during the Great War 1914-1918.
Lieut. Hart presiding spoke in high terms of the work accomplished by their C.O. who was with the Brigade during the whole of the time they were on active service. Colonel Dixon was an officer who always considered the personal safety of his men before going into action. The positions taken up where always reconnoitered and selected by him before giving sanction to the battery commander, with the result that the loss of life was reduced to a minimum. There was nothing Colonel Dixon did not do for the comfort of his men. In his reply Colonel Dixon said words failed him in expressing his appreciation of the kindness shown to him. The honours he wore were not personal honours but belonged to the Brigade. He hoped they would continue to meet as the years went on and talk over old times.
Colonel Dixon was a great family man and a devoted husband and father. He wrote long letters to his children while away and when on leave would spend as much time as possible with them. He was very clever with his hands and took great delight in making them toys and playthings and as they got older it was toboggans and a trap for the pony.
After the War the family moved to Bramley Meads, Whalley, an old house with extensive grounds and a small farm which gave him great pleasure as he was interested in agriculture, and at one time was President of the Whalley Agricultural Association.
Colonel Dixon was a firm friend of the Whalley Branch of the British Legion and had the cause of the ex-Servicemen very deeply at heart. He was always ready to help those in misfortune and was also a generous supporter of the Whalley Y.M.C.A..
He was a keen motorist and mechanic and drove himself to work daily until failing health forced him to spend long spells in hospital. He had been badly gassed during the War and developed tuberculosis from which he eventually died at home in January 1925.
To quote a friend: "Fred Dixon faced death as he faced life, with a smile and a jest that suffering could never entirely crush. He knew he was desperately ill but he had so much to live for - a dearly loved wife, four delightful children, and a home in which he had known only happiness .
On January 21st 1925, prior to the burial with full military honours at Marton, a short funeral service took place at Whalley parish church, conducted by the Vicar - the Rev. J.E.W. Wallace. The coffin was conveyed from The Mount (the Colonel's old home) to the Church on a gun carriage drawn by six horses and was afterwards borne by six men of his brigade to the graveside where three volleys were fired and the Last Post sounded.
The Church was crowded for the impressive Service conducted by the Rev. Dudley Dixon (cousin), Vicar of Glossop. There were nearly 100 wreaths and other flowers. In his address the Rev. Dixon referred to his cousin's life of suffering and his heroic patience and fortitude.
In December of the same year a large congregation was present at St. Matthew s Church, Blackpool, for the unveiling and dedication of a memorial to Colonel Dixon subscribed for and erected by the parishioners. The black and red lettering on the white marble reads:
To the glory of God and in loving memory of Frederick Alfred Dixon CMG., DSO., Lt. Colonel, of Bramley Mead, Whalley, who entered into rest on Sunday, January 13th,1925. This tablet was erected by the parishioners and friends of St. Matthew's Church in grateful recognition of the great interest he took in all that concerned the welfare of this Church and parish, and of his manly Christian character. December 1925.
The Vicar paid tribute to Colonel Dixon who he said they had all loved and esteemed for the beauty of his character.
After Colonel Dixon's death in 1925 Mrs. Dixon sold the Whalley property and moved south, living at Reigate, Nutfield, Mickleham, and Bognor, before finally settling in Chipstead.
In her early nineties she suffered a stroke and was totally incapacitated for the last 4 years of her life. She required 24 hours a day nursing but was able to remain at home until 3 months before her death when she was moved to a Nursing Home where she died on 23rd April 1977 at the great age of 96, having been born on 3rd January 1881.
She was cremated at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium and her ashes were buried there in Plot DH 104. Both Colonel and Mrs. Dixon's names are in the Crematorium's Book of Remembrance, the page being turned over annually on 23rd April. There is also a small plaque in memory of Colonel Dixon in Whalley parish church.