William Thomas Dixon
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born: 12th April 1879, Elham, Kent

enlisted: 22nd September 1914, served in France until 6th February 1919

rank: Orderly, later Sgt.

died: 22nd July 1959, Englefield Green, Surrey


History

William was a fireman in the Folkestone Fire Brigade from 1904. As part of his training, he took the Red Cross first aid certificate. Chief Fire Officer H O Jones was in charge of the Folkestone VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and William was a member. So when war was declared, he was one of the first men to leave for France as part of the British Red Cross contingent.

He was sent to Rouen General Hospital No. 2, where he worked as an Orderly, stretcher bearer and ambulance driver, and at some point became a Sgt. in the RAMC. No. 2 Red Cross Hospital Rouen was opened in the Grande Seminaire on 14th September 1914. In 1915 it became an Officers Hospital, with 200 beds. It closed on 20th December 1918, having treated 26,905 patients. Rouen was a cavalry base depot, and there were many senior officers in the city. As No.2 Hospital was for officers, the hierarchy and military discipline were strictly enforced. Whilst serving there he met Arthur Hallam, who was a proponant of psycho-therapeutics. Dr Hallam gave William a signed copy of his book on the subject "with kindest regards, 26.12.1918, Rouen." 

He remained there until February 1919 and he was offered the chance to go to Russia, but felt that he had done enough and wanted to return home. His wife Florence had had their fourth child while he was serving overseas, their youngest daughter had died, and the family had narrowly missed being killed in the Folkestone Air Raid in 1917. Also Captain H O Jones, chief officer of the Folkestone Fire Brigade had applied for the release of 16 members of the brigade who were still on active service in February 1919.

On 28th May 1918 he was mentioned in despatches for saving men trapped under fallen beams during the bombing of the hospital by the German Air Force. The attack on the hospital was described in the Times newspaper " ... on Wednesday night ... an airman came over and dropped five bombs in the vicinity of the hospital. Four were near but did no damage: a fifth hit one wing of the building fairly reducing it to powder. Besides a number of wounded, a considerable number of persons, including patients, medical officers, nurses and orderlies were killed or are missing. The upper floors were occupied by orderlies quarters and so forth: then came the wards, and on the ground floor the operating theatre, where an operation was in progress at the moment. The attack was made between half past 12 and 1 o'clock when the moon was up and the night quite clear." Times June 1, 1918.

One of the men he rescued made him a needlework box marked by a red cross, and a frame for his citation from one of the beams. These have disappeared.

 Between 1919 and 1921 he was awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Victory medals. These are also missing.

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Last update: 1st May 2007