Captain Thomas William Eric Dixon, MM, MC

The Great War Memorial 1914 - 1918 at All Saints Parish Church, Babbacombe, Torquay, England, shows fifty five men, and one of the inscribed names is T.W.E. Dixon MC MM of the 4th CMR.

Thomas was born at 'Ashton', Babbacombe Road, Torquay, England, on January 8th, 1893, being the third child of William and Grace Dixon. The 1891 Census shows each parent to be "living on their own means". In addition to two older siblings the household included three servants. Later in 1895, on September 9th, a fourth child was born - Gerald, who would later also become a Lieutenant, as Thomas did, in the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Thomas was educated at Berkhamsted Grammar School, which at the time was a private boarding school in Hertfordshire. In 1903 Thomas, aged 20 years, and Gerald, aged 18 years, emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. A later news story in the Toronto Star reporting Thomas' death said -"Both boys were born in Devonshire England, but came to Canada in their early youth, when they were adopted by Mr. and Mrs F. Whadcoat Baylis of 143 Major Street, Toronto". Some records show Thomas' and Gerald's name as incorporating the name of Baylis.

At this time both Thomas and Gerald were under the legal age of consent of 21 years. It can only be assumed that by being 'adopted', (sponsored- it gave them the opportunity to become Canadian nationals.

At the outset of war in Europe and the mobilisation of Canadian forces, Thomas, now aged 22 years, and Gerald, enlisted on the February 11th, 1915, into the 4th CMR. Thomas's Regimental number was 109309 and Gerald's 109308. What is interesting is that Thomas gave his next of kin as his mother, and now shown as living at Hatfield Lodge, Devons Road, Babbacombe, Devonshire. However Gerald gave his next of kin as Mr. Fredrick Baylis in Toronto.

From here the brothers shared similar military experiences for the next couple of years. On June 2nd, 1916, Thomas and Gerald crept into 'no-man's land', taking shelter in a bomb crater. For the next twenty four hours, and against all odds surviving the regiment's darkest day (the Battle for Mount Sorrel) they crept in and out of the German lines collecting vital intelligence. For this bravery, the next day both were commissioned in the field to the rank of Lieutenant. In addition to the promotion both were awarded the Military Medal.

By April 1917 (with Gerald having since been struck off strength from the regiment in October 1916) Thomas found himself as Scout Officer at the battle of Vimy Ridge, where again he distinguished himself, being awarded the Military Cross. In June of 1917 Thomas was appointed as Adjutant of the Division Training School, and promoted to the rank of Captain in September. However this posting was short lived when he was recalled to the front as 'B' Company Commander in December 1917.

The next that is known about Thomas is recorded in the Regimental Diary for 1st - 8th August, 1918:

The Battalion marched from Abeele to La Clytte [now Klijte-Dorp], relieving the 15th Hampshires within sight of Kemmel Hill on the South-West side of Ypres on the 1st. On their left was the Essex Battalion, 6th Division, and on the right, the American 106th Regiment [formerly the 23rd New York Infantry Regiment], attached to the 41st Division. On the 2nd, now in full view of the enemy on higher ground, no movement was permitted in daylight, bringing the need to sit tight in the trenches in dismal wet conditions. Around 6am on the 3rd saw Capt. T. Dixon MC MM killed by a shell striking "B" Company HQ. Capt. Poyser was wounded. The early hours of the 4th saw the Battalion relieved by the 12th East Surreys and moved to Wippenhoek, near Abeele. They were now part of the Fourth Army, making this their third transfer in 38 days: June 30th saw them moved from 1st Army into the 3rd Army, and then on July 29th into the 2nd Army, and thence on the 4th into the Fourth Army. A 4th CMR "original", Capt. Dixon joined as a private and rose to Captain. His funeral was held at Wippenhoek Cemetery [now at rest in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery] on the 4th. Marching to Poperinghe, the Battalion boarded 40 lorries at Nieurlet, North of St. Omer, arriving there early on the 5th.

Although mentioned several times in the extensive Regimental History by S. G. Bennett, this entry for August. 3rd, 1918, recorded the high esteem Capt. Dixon was held in (and consequently is used in the Canadian archive records reference to him):

Second-in-Command of the Company. Captain Dixon was one of the most popular officers in the Regiment. He had been with it since its inception and had risen from the ranks to command a company and had been through all the vicissitudes of the Battalion. When the Battalion was relieved early the next morning, a squad of Captain Dixon s old scouts volunteered to carry out his body. They got back to billets in the Wippenhoek area before dawn and at 8.00 a.m. a funeral service was held in Wippenhoek cemetery. The pipers played "The Flowers of the Forest" for the lament and the bugles sounded The Last Post. Thus the Battalion paid hasty tribute to an officer and a gentleman.

In three years Thomas had risen from Trooper to Captain and awarded the Military Medal and Miltary Cross, truly and outstanding achievement. Thomas now lies in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, between Boeschepe and Poperinge. His final resting place XX. I. 23 is just inside the main gate on the right hand side plot. In Babbacombe, Thomas will be remembered each Remembrance Sunday when his name will be read aloud along with the other men of Babbacombe who lost their lives in the two world wars. A heroic son of Babbacombe, and an adopted son of Canada.

Biographies with great thanks to John Cannon.