14375417 Pte Dixon R.R.
Reg Dixon was born at the Barracks alongside the Bath Road near High Close Farm and attended the local school.
The battle for the Arnhem Bridge was to account for the death of two Hungerford soldiers each serving with different units (see Walter). In this ambitious attempt to cross the Rhine and trap large German divisions, intelligence obtained from the Dutch Resistance and from our own RAF Photo Reconnaissance aircraft showed that German Panzer Divisions were resting in the area on which our troops were to land. This intelligence was ignored by those planning the operation.
Pte Reg Dixon, who had transferred from the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment to the 7th Kings Own Scottish Borderers, was one of the first to arrive in the Arnhem/Oosterbeek area of Ginkel Heath. He was with 15 Platoon "D" Company, which took off from Down Ampney on Sunday 17 September 1944 in a Horsa Glider (number 282) which carried a total of 27 troops together with a handcart and a folding bicycle.
Their task was to protect the drop zone for the 1st Air Landing Brigade and then hold their position until 18 September when the Polish Brigade landed on Johanna Hoeve Farm.
The following account of the action that day was sent to me by Mr A Anderson of Aberdeen, who was also with 7th KOSB.
"We all landed safely and made for the shelter of the nearby woods under the command of our Sgt Nattrass. We met up with Major Sherriff and took up covering positions and spent the night there. The next morning we discovered that we were surrounded by Germans and decided to get out. We were given an ultimatum; to follow Major Sherriff or everyman for himself."
"We followed the Major and being a Sniper, I was put in the lead. On the way out a half dozen Germans made their presence felt and were dealt with efficiently. We took up our positions around the Polish Brigade Landing Zone on the Tuesday. This was something I will never forget as the Poles came in, of the noise of gunfire, aircraft burning in the sky and the general confusion all around us.
"Orders were received to get out of the area and to do this we had to cross the landing area through crossfire - most of us, I think, made it. That evening we met up with brigade and received further orders to make for the White House…"
By the night of 26 September the units made their way back across the Rhine, leaving behind the wounded and those fighting a rearguard action to protect the evacuation. Of 10,005 soldiers only 2,163 got back over the Rhine, the rest being killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
Reg Dixon could probably count himself lucky that he was taken prisoner and hopefully look forward to a few months as a prisoner at Stalag 4b, a large camp holding about 30,000 prisoners of all nationalities. His prison number was 91870. The spring of 1945 continued to be very cold and with food and fuel in short supply, the prisoners in Stalag 4b were beginning to suffer.
Mr A S Gill of Colwyn Bay, who was with the South Staffordshire Regiment and a prisoner in the same camp, adds the final words:
"On 17 April 1945, with our fuel running out, the Germans sent out a Work Party into the nearby woods to collect timber for the fires. Whilst this party were returning to camp an American fighter aircraft came over and strafed the column and the camp resulting in the deaths of five of the work party, some of whom had been in camps since Dunkirk in 1940. Among those killed was Pte Reg Dixon.
Following the attack some of the huts had the letters "POW" written on them. In all fairness to the American pilot, it is likely that the column may have looked like a German Patrol. The sad part is that after another 10 days the camp was liberated by Russian Forces.
Reg Dixon, who died aged 20, is buried in the Reichwald Forest Cemetery near Cleve Germany.
- Reg Dixon (seated front right)
- Reg Dixon's grave near Cleve