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Ellis Dixon was born on 16 August 1897 in Bamber Bridge, and baptised at St Saviour’s on 12 September. His father was James Henry Dixon (b. 1872 in Bamber Bridge), a cotton weaver by trade. His mother was Grace Fielding (b. 1874 in Bamber Bridge). James and Grace were married in January 1897 and by 1911 they had had 6 children, one of whom had died in infancy: Ellis was their first child, then Bertha Agnes (b. 1898), Thomas (born and died in 1900), Harry (b. 1902), Alice (b. 1904) and Martha (b.1906). After the 1911 Census they had two more sons, Charles Neville (b. 1915) and when their last son was born in 1918 they named him after their first-born who had been killed 15 months earlier.

Ellis turned 18 in August 1915 and probably enlisted as soon as he was old enough, joining the Loyals and being posted to 1st Battalion with service number 22612. 1st Battalion was part of 2nd Brigade in 1st Division. It is likely that Ellis joined them in the first part of 1916 and fought with the Division throughout the Battle of the Somme. The Division fought at the Battles of Albert (July), Bazentin (July), Pozières (July-September), Flers-Courcelette (September) and Morval (September). The Division spent the whole of the month of October at rest in the Millencourt area and at the end of the month were moved back to the Somme area at billets in Albert and the Battalion spent the remainder of 1916 in the area of Bazentin-le-Grand and Mametz Wood, taking its share of trench duty and spending its ‘rest period’ in the rear in organising and assimilating new drafts which continued to arrive in small or large parties.

Even though 13th December 1916 was almost a month after the formal ending of the Battle of the Somme (with the Battle of the Ancre and the capture of Beaumont Hamel on 18 November 1916), on that day CWGC records 145 deaths in France as shelling and sniper fire continued. That day three men from the 1Bn were killed: Ellis Dixon, 26940 PTE. WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN and 19756 PTE. SAMUEL TILLEY. Their bodies were not recovered so a plausible explanation is that they were hit by a random shell.

Ellis was still only 19 years old when he died. The following year, his mother Grace received his effects including cash of £2 8s 10d, and after the War, a War Gratuity of £3 10s. Grace and James had another son in 1918 whom they named after the son they lost.

Rank: Private
Service No: 22612
Date of Death: 13/12/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 11 A.

In a cruel twist of fate, Grace who lost her first son in World War I would lose her last son, named after him, in World War II. James, her husband, died in 1938. Ellis (b. 1918) joined the Army during the Second War and served as 2333048 Signalman Ellis Dixon in the Royal Corps of Signals. Ellis was married in 1941 to Dorothy Hartley, but soon after their marriage Ellis was posted to Singapore. When Singapore fell in 1942, Ellis was a prisoner of war and in 1943 he was forced to work on the Burma railway. He died in 1943 whilst working on the railway and is buried at Kanchanaburi in Thailand, which is the town closest to the notorious Bridge on the River Kwai.

Bill Brierley
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