Buried: Bailleul Road East Cemetery, St Laurent-Blangy
Address: 2 Tunwell Lane, Eccleshill
Parents: Fred & Hannah, nee Bilborough
Siblings: Ida, John, Rose, Walter
Organisations/clubs: Eccleshill Cogregational Sunday School; Band of Hope
Rolls of Honour: Eccleshill, Park & St Luke’s
Regiment: 1 Bradford Pals
Harry Norman Dixon
Harry Norman Dixon was born on the 2nd of June 1896 in Undercliffe and baptised on the 8th July 1896 at St Peter Parish Church the son of Fred Dixon born in 1871 and Hannah Dixon, formerly Bilborough who was born in Leeds in 1870. Fred was working as a lamp porter.In 1901 the family were living at 16 Westgate, Eccleshill. Fred was now a railway porter and three children had been born. By 1911 the family had moved to 2 Tunwell Lane, Eccleshill and Fred was employed at Smith Hutton as a beamer in worsted. Harry at 14 years of age was working as a piecer in a mill. Two more children had been born.When war broke out in 1914 Harry was working as a gardener for Mr S W Vint of Briarfield in
Idle. He was a member of the Eccleshill Congregational Sunday School and a worker at the Band of Hope. He enlisted on the 5th December 1914 in the Machine Gun Corps as Private 20303 and was transferred to the 93rd Battalion of the MGC which was formed in October 1915.Harry was wounded in the left arm on Easter Sunday 1916 and again in the right arm on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st of July. He was killed in action on the 14th of April 1917 during the Arras Offensive which took place between the 9th of April and the 16th of June 1917. He was 20 years of age.Corporal Willie Smith of Moorside Cottage, Eccleshill, who was in the same Machine Gun Corps, wrote to Harry’s parents to let them
know the circumstances of his death. “We were waiting in a trench previous to an attack when Harry and several others met their death by the bursting of a shell. “I cannot tell you how much I miss him for we both came from the same place and were transferred from the same Battalion and for those reasons had a great deal in common. He was liked by everyone in the Company for he was always so bright and cheerful”.Harry is buried on the Bailleul Road East Cemetery in St Laurent-Blangy. This village fell into the hands of the British on the 9th of April 1917, the first day of the Battles of Arras and the cemetery was begun by the 34th Division.At his father’s request Harry left his effects to his mother Hannah who received £3.9.8d on the 23rd of August 1917 and a War Gratuity of £10.10s on the 25th of October 1919.
Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks
We are fortunate in having a number of articles published about Harry’s war as friends and family passed on letters to the Shipley Times & Express for publication.14 January 1916Pte Harry Dixon, of 2 Tunwell Mount, who is with the 1st Pals ‘somewhere in the Mediterranean,’ has written home saying: “We arrived safe and sound at our destination after a very exciting voyage. We were chased by a submarine and things have been a bit lively for us.“On Christmas Eve I was on guard in the trenches, watching for the enemy, and my thoughts would wander to what you were doing at home.“My fare for Christmas Eve was not what one usually expects at that season. It consisted of something like a dog biscuit and some bully beef. But we must expect such things while on active service.”25 February 1916Writing to a friend from ‘Somewhere in Egypt’, Harry gave a bit more detail about the submarine attack: “I was heartily glad to receive the parcel from the Sunday School and being the first chap in the regiment to do so, quite a crowd collected round to see what the contents were.“It was a very agreeable change from bully beef and biscuits.Two submarines“As you will perhaps be aware, we had a very exciting voyage out, although the sea was calm. One day there was a tremendous bang. We hurried up to find the cause and it seems the lookout had spotted two
submarines, one of them being a good distance away and the other 300 yards.“The noise we had heard was the first shot at the nearest submarine. The gunner let fly a second shot which just missed by a few yards and then we saw a deadly torpedo rushing along but it went wide of the mark and the submarine disappeared from view.“Our captain put on full speed and we escaped further attention.”31 March 1916Two weeks later, Harry wrote to a friend: “Things have altered since I wrote to you last for we are now ‘Somewhere in France.’Desert march“When we received our orders in Egypt we had a ten miles march across the desert in full pack.“When we reached France we saw a great number of German prisoners working on the quay side and on passing through the town, were able to note the many splendid buildings the place possessed.“At this place we are now resting but are expecting being sent to the firing line before long.”21 April 1916Pte Harry Dixon who is in France with the 1st Bradford Pals writes: “I have not had the pleasure of going into the first line trenches yet but some of the men have already had that distinction.“It’s far better being here than in Egypt. There is always something on the go. It is surprising to see the number of motor transports and Red Cross waggons whizzing along the roads.
“It creates a bit of interest to see the signs that are painted on them. There are many “thumbs up” and others with shamrocks painted on.“It is fascinating watching our aeroplanes hovering over the German lines and to see the Bosches wasting large quantities of shells in a vain endeavour to bring them down. It is as good as being at the pictures.“Our artillery is splendid and it is really marvellous how quickly they can get the range. We are being well looked after as regards rations whilst cigarettes are served out every week.”5 May 1916The people who have grumbled at the Bradford Pals having had a good time while the other regiments have been doing the fighting can grumble no longer on that score, for the Pals have been in action and some have already made the supreme sacrifice and others have been wounded.Mr and Mrs Fred Dixon, of 2 Tunwell Mount, Eccleshill, were informed on Friday by field postcard that their son, Pte Harry Dixon, who is in the 1st Pals, was wounded and an inmate of one of the base hospitals.Marvellous escapeOn Saturday they received a letter from their son in which he says: “Don’t worry about me as I am getting on well. I have had a marvellous escape.“There were four of us in the firing line which is only 30 yards away from the Germans and a shell called a ‘Whiz-bang’ dropped right into our trench on Easter Sunday morning.
“I could not explain how it is I am the lucky one for I was between two of my chums and they were killed at my feet. My other comrade had one eye blown out and shrapnel also entered his chest and I regret to say he died a few hours after.“I was knocked over by the same shell but got up and walked to the dressing station. “I was wounded in the left arm and after my injury had been attended to, I was conveyed by Red Cross motor to another station. I am now in a rest camp and the chaplain has already been to see me.Bit shaky“I am sorry to say that we lost seven men during the four days we were in the trenches. It rained the whole time we were there and we had to stand in three feet of water.“I am getting on well but as you may expect from me having such a narrow escape, I am a bit shaky yet with my nerves.”Pte Dixon enlisted in the Pals soon after its formation and had his training at Skipton and Ripon and was sent to Egypt.14 July 1916Pte Harry Dixon of 2 Tunwell Mount, has received a bayonet wound in the right arm and is now in hospital within ten miles of England. Pte Dixon is one of the 1st Bradford Pals.22 September 1916Pte Harry Dixon, who was wounded a few months ago has now recovered and gone back to the trenches.