1888 - 1916
REGINALD EDWARD DIXON was born on the 12th April 1888 in Great Waltham, Essex, the tenth child and fourth son of George Gainsford and Emma Matilda Dixon (née Harvey). His parents were married on the 29th August 1866 in the Parish Church, Great Waltham. George was a Bricklayer, the son of a Schoolmaster and Emma the daughter of a Blacksmith.
MARRIAGE OF GEORGE GAINSFORD DIXON AND EMMA MATILDA HARVEY
BAPTISM REGINALD EDWARD DIXON
Reginald was baptised on the 3rd June 1888 in the Parish Church, Great Waltham. Reginald was the second youngest of eleven children. His elder brothers and sisters were Caroline Susan (b.1867), Frederick (b.20 Dec 1868), Martha Annie (b.1871), Ada Mary (b.1874), Harry Harvey (b.1876), Emma Matilda (b.Aug 1878), Clement Herbert (b.24 Feb 1881), Hilda Maud (b.3 Apr 1883) and Ethel Sarel (b.1886). Mabel Sarel was born on the 5 October 1891.
In the 1891 Census, Frederick was a Bricklayer, and Henry was a Bricklayer labourer. The elder daughters were at school. Reginald was only 2 years old.
By 1901 the Census shows the family living at Church End in Great Waltham. In November 1902, Reginald’s father, George Gainsford Dixon died; aged 57 years and his funeral took place on the 10th November at Great Waltham Parish Church.
The 1911 Census shows Emma, now a widow with just Ethel and Reginald at home in Great Waltham. Reginald, now 21 years old, is a bricklayer’s labourer.
Reginald probably enlisted in early 1916 as a Private, Regimental No. 26698 with the Essex Regiment and was drafted to the 9th (Service) Battalion in France in late June or early July.
As part of the Somme Offensive, at the beginning of October 1916, the Brigade moved from Albert to Montauban and camped making use of old trenches and a few partly constructed shelters. Owing to the bad weather the Troops experienced great discomfort, an issue of rum was obtained which helped to cheer the men up.
From the 3rd – 9th October the men were put to work on the construction of shelters, sandbags and a few corrugated iron shelters were drawn from the RE (Royal Engineers) Dump and waterproof canvas shelters which meant the men had a good camp. Training in the attack was carried out when the weather permitted but owing to the exceptionally bad condition of the ground little was accomplished.
On the 10th October the Brigade moved up into the line at Gueudecourt, and the Battalion relieved the 7th Royal Sussex Regiment on support. The Norfolk & Suffolk Regiments took over the Front Line and the Berkshire Regiment was in reserve. Parts of the line were heavily shelled and a few casualties inflicted, but towards morning shelling gradually died down. It was quiet on the 11th.
At 4am on the 12th October C & D Companies moved up into the GIRD (Grid) Trench east of Gueudecourt, preparatory to garrisoning the Front Line when the Norfolk & Suffolk Regiments moved out to attack the German positions. These two Companies were shelled intermittently throughout the day and about 20 casualties were caused chiefly from high explosives. They crept over the top of the trench in small parties as there were no communication trenches to the Front Line offering cover. Unfortunately the artillery had not touched the enemy’s wire and the Regiments were forced to withdraw to reorganise. During the night parties were sent out to bring in the wounded. The lines were shelled frequently and confined to definite parts of the trenches and there were a few casualties.
Death and Memorial
It may well have been at this point, sometime on the 12th October 1916, Reginald was killed instantly by a shell whilst asleep. His body was never found.
THE ESSEX NEWMAN SATURDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 1916
Reginald is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on the Thiepval Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and built between 1928 and 1932. The Memorial was unveiled on the 1st August 1932, by the Prince of Wales. The Thiepval Memorial is on the D73, next to the village of Thiepval, off the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929) in the Somme, France. Ernest is remembered on the Pier Face 10D.
Reginald is remembered in his home village on the Great Waltham War Memorial.
On the 24th February 1917 his mother, Emma as next of kin received 7s.8d and on the 10th October 1919 a further Gratuity payment of £3 was paid to her.
Reginald was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal