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Robert Dixon was born in Church, Accrington in about 1891. He was the son of James and Alice Dixon and the family lived together at 106 Taberner Terrace, Houghton Lane, Higher Walton, Lancashire.

Robert enlisted and was embodied into the 3/4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 15th November 1915 . He was first given the number 4541 which was changed to 201772 when the men of the Territorial Force were renumbered in 1917.

At the time of his enlistment the medical officer described Robert as being 5ft 6in tall and weighing 139lbs. He was 24 years old and had been working as a dyer at Messrs. F. A. Gatty and Co’s. Bannister Hall Works, Higher Walton*. His family had long since worked at Gatty’s hence the reason the family moved from Accrington to Higher Walton when the business relocated.

Private Dixon sailed from Southampton to Rouen, France to join the 1/4th Battalion in the field on 10th April 1916. This was the 10th batch of reinforcements with the original men of the Battalion having been there since the previous May.

When he arrived to the Battalion he was placed in ‘D’ Company.

On 9th September 1916 Robert is recorded as having been wounded during the attack on DELVILLE WOOD. Two days later he was taken via the Field Ambulance and No. 38 Casualty Clearing Station to a hospital in Etaples suffering from ‘Shell Shock’.

Battalion History: The DELVILLE WOOD battle started on the 9th September. The British artillery were in action all day, and at 4 p.m. the barrage started ; at 4 45 the Division on our left attacked. Our objective was to capture HOP ALLEY with B and C Companies, whilst the Lancashire Fusiliers were to go over with us and take ALE ALLEY. At 5 25 the Battalion went over and the first objective — HOP ALLEY — was gained, but the second wave did not succeed in reaching ALE ALLEY, and as HOP ALLEY had become untenable under intense machine gun barrage and gunfire, the remnant of B and C Companies withdrew and fell back to their original line. Supporting Companies from the l/8th King’s Liverpool Regiment and 1 /4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were sent up to strengthen the lines, whilst working parties consolidated the position.

Robert remained in Etaples until rejoining his Battalion on 15th October 1916.

From the end December 1916 till early January 1917 he attended musketry training in the field.

On the 14th May 1917 Robert reported sick and was taken by a Field Ambulance to No. 3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. It was here he died of pneumonia on 21st May 1917. He had served for 1 year 188 days and was buried in Lijessenthoek Military Cemetery.

A bag containing the following personal efforts were later dispatched to his father in Higher Walton.

  • 1 x Identity disc
  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • 1 x Pipe
  • 1 x Religious book
  • 1 x Belt
  • Photograph wallet
  • Postcards
  • Greetings cards
  • 1 x Gospel of St. John
  • Safety razor
  • 1 x Badge (broken)

The following notice appeared in a local newspaper shortly afterwards;

robert dixon


Mr. James Dixon, 106, Houghton-lane, Higher Walton, has received official information that his son, Pte. Robert Dixon, died from pneumonia on May 21st. Deceased, who was 26 years of, enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regt. in Sept. 1915, and had been in France 13 months. Prior to enlistment he was employed at Messrs. F. A. Gatty and Co’s. Bannister Hall Works, Higher Walton.

Robert is also remembered on the Roll of Honour at Higher Walton Methodist Church. His next of kin took receipt of Robert’s British War Medal and Victory Medal. They would also have received the Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 201772
Date of Death: 21/05/1917
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

*Frederick Albert Gatty, an inventor in the dyeing trade, discovered mineral khaki dye and patented it in 1884.

A French immigrant, he had established the firm of F A Gatty & Co. (Ltd. from 1886) at the Hagg Works, Hyndburn Road, Accrington, in 1843, initially as dyers of Turkey red, another of his discoveries. The firm diversified into calico printing but the success of Gatty’s khaki dyeing process took over from this before Gatty’s death in 1888.

The business relocated to a larger site at the Bannister Hall Works in Walton-le-Dale in 1896 and continued in operation until at least 1930, under the management of F A Gatty’s sons Victor Herbert and, from 1922, Frederick Alfred. Source: Lancashire Archives

Paul McCormick
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