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Remembering World War II
Cecil Dixon
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Name: Cecil Dixon Rank: Private Service No.: F/79582 Service: West Nova Scotia Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps Date of Birth: January 10, 1922 Place of Birth: Africville, Halifax Co., NS Date of Enlistment: November 26, 1941 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, NS Address at Enlistment: Africville, Halifax, NS Age at Enlistment: 19 Height: 5 feet, 6 ¾ inches Marital Status: Single (at enlistment) Trade: Labourer, waterfront Religion: Baptist Next of Kin: Florence (Dixon) David (Mother) Halifax, NS Date of Death: September 27, 1943 Age: 21 Cemetery: Bone War Cemetery (Constantine), Annaba, Algeria Grave: V. G. 8. Commemorated on Page 153 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on March 31 Cecil Dixon was the son of John Izzard and Florence May (Dixon) David. He enlisted under the name Cecil Dixon (using his mother’s maiden name). Military records list Florence Willemina Dixon as a half sister. Private Dixon listed in his pay book for siblings, a sister, Evelyn Dixon, and an uncle, Albert Dixon. When Cecil enlisted, his mother was living in Halifax and his father was living in Montreal, Quebec. His mother, Florence, was the daughter of Edward Dixon. She had remarried Harrison Christopher David on December 28, 1925. Although only 19 at enlistment, Cecil’s service file notes he had worked for 10 years as a labourer at the Amherst Iron Foundry. After enlistment in Halifax on November 26, 1941, he was transferred for basic training from December 5, 1941, to February 4, 1942, to the Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC) (Camp 60) in Yarmouth, NS. He embarked Canada for the United Kingdom on May 1, 1942. While in England he was absent without leave for 48 days from May 9 to June 26, 1943. During this time, he married of Alice T. Queen (b. Alice Miller June 8, 1913) of Edinburgh, Scotland on June 2, 1943. His surname when he married was recorded as a variation of his father’s surname, Izzet. Alice was a widow; her first husband Arthur Queen, a hotel porter, had died on February 17, 1941, as a result of an accident sustained at work. Although neither Alice and Arthur, nor Alice and Cecil had any children born from their marriages, Alice and Albert had adopted a four-month-old boy – Hugh Queen. The Canadian Provost Corps located Private Dixon in Edinburgh after his 48-day absence, and he rejoined the No 7. Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit. He embarked the United Kingdom on September 12, 1943, and disembarked in North Africa on September 24, 1943, then attached to the West Nova Scotia Regiment. He would have been a reinforcement for the Italian Campaign, the West Novas having landed on the Italian mainland September 3, 1943. Private Dixon died in Philippeville (now known as Skikda), Algeria, three days later during an organised bathing parade while attempting to rescue Private Alphonsus Thomas Sears. Both men drowned. At the time, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, Canadian Army Reinforcement Depot. Philippeville in Algiers was used as a reinforcement depot for the Sicilian and Italian Campaigns, and the No. 15 Canadian General Hospital of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps was 30 km inland at El Arrouch. A Canadian WWII Veteran with the Loyal Edmonton Regt, Mel McPhee, recalled Philippeville, “we arrived […], where it was 110 degrees in the shade. We setup camp on the high ground on the outskirts of Philippeville overlooking the Mediterranean. We were still wearing army serge, so swims in the warm blue water were the order of the day …” The subsequent military court of inquiry indicated that the danger warning flag was hoisted at the time but recommended that the “Danger Flag” be of larger proportions to be easily discernible in all weathers. An officer was found negligent for falling to notice the danger flag. Because Private Dixon had not sought permission from the Canadian Army to marry, official notice of his death was first sent to his mother in Nova Scotia. His wife learned of his death from a soldier in Private Dixon’s unit who wrote to her directly (B. Ferguson, Service No. B/51982). Alice then wrote to the Canadian Army and the military learned Cecil was married. After military contact with the wife of Private Dixon, the assigned official reported: “household consists of the dependent [Alice] and her adopted son. The house is small having only one living room and one bedroom, but it is clean and comfortably furnished. The house is situated in a middle-class working district. At present [Alice] is employed full time as a brewery worker with McEwan & Co Ltd, Edinburgh. Dependent’s mother was present during the interview, and I was very favourably impressed by the ready manner in which both dependent and her mother volunteered information.” A letter dated November 15, 1943, from the Berkeley Square, London office of the Canadian Red Cross indicated that “Mrs. Dixon [Izzit] was anxious to join her late husband’s people in Canada, and we are giving her the necessary information about this.” It is not known if Alice ever made her way to Canada. Private Dixon’s widow also noted in a letter to the Army on October 10, 1943, that she had received “a very nice letter” from Private Dixon’s mother. Private Dixon was initially buried in the British American Cemetery, in Philippeville, Algeria (Plot 1, Row A, Grave 3) and was re-interred at the Bone Military Cemetery in Annaba, Algeria (Plot V, Row G, Grave 8). The cemetery gets its name from the seaport city of Annaba’s former name, which was Bon, Bona and Bône.
Private Dixon’s mother, Florence David (back row, 3rd from left), reception at Community Hall to celebrate the return of Africville’s WWII Veterans (Although she lost her son in WWII, she attended). Image from the book Spirit of Africville