CHARLES Herbert Dixon was born in Sheffield on July 9, 1894.
At the outbreak of the Great War, he enlisted at the age of 21 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, serving with the 3rd Battalion.
He was wounded in the second battle of Ypres on April 14, 1915, while defending Hill 60 and was the only officer left in his unit to have survived that day’s battle.
After recovering back in England, he gained his Aviator’s Certificate (number 1480) having learnt to fly at the Ruffey-Baumann Flying School, Hendon.
Promoted to lieutenant in October 1915, he joined a month later No 25 Squadron RFC, British Expeditionary Force.
Within the squadron, Charles Dixon was nicknamed ‘Fluffy’ because of his rather downy cheeks.
After the squadron arrived in France in February 1916, he took part in many successful raids over enemy territory but on August 1, 1916 his aircraft was hit by ‘archie’ (enemy anti-aircraft fire) and his observer was wounded.
On September 7, Captain Dixon, flying a FE2b scout (fighter aircraft), shared, with two other squadron aircraft, in the destruction of a German Fokker E.III Eindecker.
For this action, Charles Dixon was awarded the Military Cross on January 10, 1917. The Citation read:
“For Conspicuous Gallantry in Action
“He deliberately made himself bait for a hostile machine enabling two of our machines to approach unseen and shoot down the enemy machine. He has carried out many bombing raids with great courage and success.
In February 1917, he was posted to No 2 School of Aeronautics, Oxford as a temporary instructor and a month later was posted to No 6 Reserve Squadron, Catterick as its commanding officer with the rank of temporary major.
After completing a fighting instructor course at the Central Flying School, Upavon, he joined No 29 Squadron in November 1917 as commanding officer. The squadron was equipped with Nieuport 27s but converted to Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a scouts in April 1918.Throughout his time with No 29 Squadron, he kept a diary.
Here is the entry for September 30, 1918:
‘The squadron is nearly wrecked. Dougan. O’Leary and Rolfe went west on Saturday morning but the greatest blow of all was Hay, who I’m afraid was done in (killed).
“He went that evening, then yesterday, Holme didn’t come back.
“However, he walked in this morning. He crashed after being hit in the engine and thought he was in Hunland. However, our infantry had advanced and the Huns were running so it was OK. Slept the night in a Hun dug-out and walked back this morning.”
In August 1918, Dixon brought down three enemy aircraft while flying a SE5a scout and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in the New Year’s Honours list.
After returning to the UK following the end of the war, he was transferred to Home Establishment and served at RAF Tangmere before it closed in 1919. Whilst at Tangmere, he was awarded the prestigious Belgium Croix de Guerre.
Major Charles Dixon MC DFC turned down a permanent commission in and was released from the RAF in 1919.
A new exhibition on Major Charles Dixon, including extracts from his diary, will be open to the public when the museum opens to visitors on February 1 following the annual maintenance period.
:: This article, written by David Coxon, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum’s curator, is the 13th in a series of monthly articles on the people of RAF Tangmere. More information on the museum, including opening times and entry prices can be found on the website www.tangmere-museum.org.uk