681830 GNR. A. E. DIXON.  R.F.A.

 

Alfred Edward Dixon was born in September 1891 in Tarvin, Cheshire, and baptised there on 11 October.    His father was James Dixon (b. 1854 in Hapsford, Cheshire), a railway platelayer.  His mother was Elizabeth Dainteth or Dinteth (b. 1866 in Chester).  I think James had been previously married and had a son, Samuel Thomas (b. 1887) by his first wife.  James and Elizabeth were married in 1890 and had five children.  Alfred was their first and he was followed by George (b. 1897), Joseph (b. 1900), Edith (b. 1905) and Violet (b. 1909).  In 1911, most of the family were living at Mouldsworth, near Frodhsam, but Alfred (19) and his brother George (14) were both grocer’s apprentices, living and working not far away in Tarvin.

 

Alfred enlisted in Liverpool in 1915, though he may have served in the Territorials before that.  He joined the Royal Field Artillery and was assigned service number 1383, which was later changed to 681830.  He was posted to “D” Battery of 276 Brigade.  276 Brigade formed part of 55th (West Lancashire) Division.  Alfred landed with his Division in France on 29 September 1915.  55th Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont.  They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front.  Although there were no major engagements in early 1917, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids. 

 

1917: Third Battle of Ypres

From 55th Divisional History:  "The objective of what was called the Third Battle of Ypres was the capture of the enemy's Gheluvelt-Langemark system...  The weather during the whole of June and during the greater part of July had been ideal for campaigning purposes.  Unfortunately, on Sunday 29 July a particularly heavy thunderstorm filled up the shell holes and turned roads and tracks into a morass.  The succeeding days were dull and hazy, making the completion of the artillery preparation peculiarly difficult and typical Flanders weather conditions prevailed on the morning of the 31st - the moment chosen for the attack.  Low lying clouds which made aerial observation and cooperation as difficult as could be imagined; a dampness of atmosphere, threatening rain at any moment; a half sodden ground, greasy and depressing; such was the luck of the weather at 3.50am on 31 July 1917, when the barrage opened.  Not since the war began had so intense a barrage been put down, and of its wonderful effectiveness all ranks in the line bore eloquent testimony."

 

55th Division spent the period from 7 August to 12 September either at rest or in training.  The weather throughout August had been appalling but in early September, as the Division prepared to return to the front, it became fine and dry.  They took up their position in the line on 15 September, in almost exactly the same place they had left back in August.  As they prepared to enter the line, between Frezenberg and St Julien, the various sections of the Division were constantly harassed by enemy fire.  Alfred was killed in action on 13 September 1917.  He was 26 years old.

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  681830

Date of Death:  13/09/1917

Age:  26

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde.

Grave Reference:   I. E. 67.

Cemetery:  YPRES RESERVOIR CEMETERY

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