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War Memorials



In Memory of
CHARLES THOMAS DIXON
Private 5532
2nd/7th Battalion Sherwood Foresters
(Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who died on Wednesday 26th April 1916
Age 22
Buried Row CE Grave 630
Grangegorman Military Cemetery
Pheonix Park, Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin, Ireland

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Grangegorman

Grangegorman Military Cemetery1

Charles Thomas Dixon was the second of five children, eldest son, of Charles Thomas & Harriett Ann (né Green) Dixon, one of tw0 boys and three girls in the family. Charles Thomas senior worked as a domestic coachman or chauffeur, first in Lincolnshire before taking a position in Bramcote, Notts in about 18972. By 1911, he was working in Beeston, living with his family at 62 Station Road. By this time Charles Thomas junior had found work as a confectionery baker, apparently joining his older sister, Annie Gertrude, who was working as a confectionery shop assistant3.

It appears likely that Charles Thomas junior volunteered in response to the announcement of The Derby Scheme of recruitment, launched by the Earl of Derby in autumn 1915. Following a medical examination in Derby in November 1915, he attested, also in Derby, on 2 February 1916, enlisting with the 2nd/7th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment - known locally as the "Robin Hoods" - a Second Line Battalion, formed as a reserve to replace the first line casualties when necessary. As it was to turn out, the period of even basic training that Private Dixon was to receive was only too short.

In August 1914 the political controversy of "Home Rule" for Ireland was put aside when the Great War overshadowed all differences between politicians, resulting in over 250,000 Irishmen of whatever belief pledging their allegiance to the Crown and the cause of patriotism. With the increasing food shortage however, the country districts prospered but in the towns the story was very different. The city of Dublin in particular felt the pinch of poverty, the price of food and products were ever increasing but with pre-war rates of pay for the workers, seeds of rebellion could be found. This was the situation then in 1916 when a number of intellectuals launched the idea that the time was right to strike a blow for autonomy. With the help of American money, arms were purchases from Europe and landed on the Irish Coast.

On Easter Monday when many of the British troops stationed there were enjoying time off and many of their Officers were attending a local horse race meeting, a force of some three thousand or less took this opportunity to strike. The first shot fired by the rebels was outside Dublin Castle when a policeman was killed and this incident sparked off the rebellion. Other places of strategic importance seized by the rebels were St.Stephen’s Green an ornamental park near the centre of the city, which dominated extensive road, communications. The adjacent building of Jacob's Biscuit factory, and nearest the river Boland's Mills. One of the most important places to be taken by the insurgents was Trinity College, commanding a strategic position overlooking the city. The General Post Office in Sackville Street was taken by a large force, which expelled all staff although some were in league with the rebels. It was from the Post Office that Patrick Pearce the insurgents leader, a headmaster from St. Edna's School, stood on the building steps and declared an independent Irish Republic. It was in this building that the rebel force established their military headquarters.

Reinforcements were quickly summoned from England, consisting of two Infantry Brigades the 176th and 178th part of the 59th North Midland Division. 2nd/7th Battalion Sherwood Foresters was part of 178th Brigade. The Brigades left Watford by train for Liverpool and arrived on the Prince's Landing stage in Liverpool to board the S.S. Tynwald which sailed at 8pm on Tuesday 25th April 1916. It only then became known that their destination was Kingston in Ireland, the port being reached about 4am on Wednesday 26th. It was then that the troops learned that a rebellion had broken out in Dublin, and that the rebels were holding many of the principle buildings, with a view of preventing any soldiers from entering the city. At 10.35, on a fine spring day, the Brigade moved off towards Dublin, in two columns of two battalions each along the two roads closest to the coast.

Their task would be a difficult one for the inexperienced troops that were involved - it was only just over 2 months since Private Dixon had enlisted - and to make things very much worse, they were to discover that their grenades had been left in Watford and at least one of their four Lewis guns had had to be left behind in Liverpool. Otherwise, all they had were their rifles and bayonets - and they had had almost no training or experience with these. It was the start of a nightmare that would result in 23 deaths in the Brigade.

The inland force comprised the 2nd/5th and 2nd/6th battalions of Sherwood Foresters reached Kilmainham and Kingsbridge without opposition; not so the 2nd/7th & 2nd/8th, continuing on the road towards Beggars Bush Barracks. It was after they had past Beggars Bush, aiming to reach their first objective, Trinity Collage, that the vanguard of the 2nd/7th ran into enemy fire at the corner of Haddington and Northumberland Roads. Based in No 25 Northumberland Road were Mark Malone and Seumas Grace of the 3rd Battalion Dublin Brigade. They opened fire and the effect was devastating to the 2nd/7th, walking up the road in column of fours with their officers out in front. All the troops hit the ground while they tried to locate the source of the firing. Malone was a crack shot with the Mauser automatic and his position in the bathroom at the side of the house was brilliantly chosen. The shots from this property and also from Clanwilliam House, a substantial Victorian town house block facing across Mount Street Bridge with a clear view down Northampton Road, totally confused the columns of soldiers. As they tried to crawl en mass towards the building, the local schools, they believed to be their objective, they presented an almost immobile target. Captain Dietrichsen the Adjutant of the 2nd/7th, until recently a lawyer in Nottingham, who tried to get the squad to move was instantly shot down. Captain Dietrichsen had recently moved his wife and family from Nottingham to Ireland to escape enemy bombing from the German Zeppelins.

It was during this encounter that most of 2nd/7th casualties occurred3. Among the officers and men killed were Privates Dixon and Sibley from Beeston. Both are buried close to each other in Grangegorman Military Cemetery.

The shortage of grenades was eventually remedied around 5pm and No 25 and the schools were finally rushed and carried by grenade assaults and a supply of fresh troops, the 2nd/8th were brought through to relieve the exhausted and demoralized 2nd/7th. Malone was killed sometime after 5pm, but even in the thick of a full scale attack, Grace was able to make his escape from the back of No 25. He was eventually captured on Thursday in an outhouse in Haddington Road, after the owner informed the army.

Grangegorman Military Cemetery is situated on Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin, outside the North East boundary of Pheonix Park. It was opened in 1876 and was used for the burial of British service personnel and their near relatives. It contains war graves from both World Wars, but the large majority are 1914-1918 war burials. In total there are nearly 800 war graves, 623 of which are of identified casualties. The Grangegorman Memorial consists of a screen wall, of simple design, standing nearly two metres high and fifteen metres long, built of Irish limestone. The Memorial commemorates the names of those War Dead whose graves lie elsewhere in Ireland and which can no longer be maintained. The names of several casualties who are commemorated on the Memorial have been deleted from the register as commemoration as now been restored to the actual site of the burial.4

Surprisingly, of the 5 Officers and 22 men of the Sherwood Foresters who were killed or died of wounds during the "Easter Rising" in April 1916, only the following nine are buried in this cemetery and recorded in the cemetery register, others having been buried elsewhere.

Remarkably, as service in Dublin was considered to be 'Home service' the men killed or discharged through wounds there, earned no medals as only overseas service counted as a qualification.


Footnotes
1The photograph of Grangegorman Military Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2At the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at Church Street, Bramcote, Notts (Piece 3208 Folio 40)
3At the time of the 1911 Census, the family was living at 62 Station Road, Beeston, Notts (Piece 20431 RD429 SD3 ED6 Sched 83) Charles Thomas' siblings were recorded as Annie Gertrude (19), Rose Evetn (15), Nellie Frances (14) and Herbert Henry (13)
2Alfred Nathan Sibley is known to have joined the Boys' Brigade in Beeston on 1st November 1909, then aged 15 and working for Mr Moore.
3There is another account of the tragic encounter at www.crich-memorial.org.uk/sherwoodforesters.html
4The description of the cemetery is based on that given on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)

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