View Full Version : Solving a First World War Mystery...
Have been bothered by this for years. Amongst my great grandmothers posessions (she passed away in 1988) was an empty envelope, adressed to her from France, dated December 1917. It was empty, but years later I noticed it had a small signature at the bottom where the sender signed 'G.Dixon'. She had a brother George Dixon b.1894, so I assume he went to the Front. However I have had no luck tracing him on Medal cards etc as the name so common.
Now when looking through her photos, there are four or five photos unidentified of men in uniform circa WWI, I wonder whether one is George and was originally in the envelope alongside the letter?
Anyway seeing the wonders done here before identifying, placing and dating photos I have decided to scan them and post them up here. She obviously knew all these men, (she had quite a few brothers of war age, they may have all fought).
Will not post them all at once, but will start with this one. Have blown it up, it's actually a tiny little cabinet photo, so could well have been in with the letter, and looks to me as if it was taken at the front. Could it be George? Any help with uniform/regiment etc?:
The above is scaled, there's a full size (600dp) scan here, if it helps at all to identify it: http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd160/Riche1979/05-12-2008024022pm2.jpg
unfortunately the cap badges are not that too clear but at a guess I would suggest that they were both in the Royal Engineer's going by the shape and form of the cap badges. The soldier on the left is a corporal and has taken the stiffening wire out of his cap giving the cap an untidy look about it. By taking the wire out from the edge of the crown enabled the cap to be folded so that it could be placed in the pocket and also made it more comfortable to wear. The soldier on the right however still has the wire in his cap and held the rank of Quarter Master Serjeant. I would suggest that this photograph was taken after 1916.
Thanks for that. I have just had another look on Ancestry, and though could still not find any luck with George, I was overjoyed to find one of her other brothers, William.
His records are quite detailed, he was in the 28th Brigade Royal Field Artillery for the duration of the war, most of the time in France, he joined up (renlisted) as a corporal in August 1914, was made Sergeant 1915, then promoted again in August 1917, though the rank is not too clear..might be ?.Q.M.S..So could be Quarter Master Sergeant?
Is it possible these two could indeed be in the Field Artillery rather than R.E? If so might have identified William if not George.
Is it possible these two could indeed be in the Field Artillery rather than R.E? If so might have identified William if not George.
Hi Richard ... have a look here ... the Royal Artillery and RE badges are quite different
The badge on the man on the left I agree certainly looks like RE. I'm wondering though whether the chap on the rights badge isn't slightly different (though probably not RFA either). Shame the photo isn't clearer, have tried rescanning it at much higher res, but bit of a lost cause, the orig image isn't good enough.
Here they are enlarged .... they do look slightly different but very unclear :confused:
Thanks for that. It doesn't look like R.F.A though, but it's intriguing him being a quarter master sergeant. I have had another look at William Dixons records and he was promoted to C.Q.M.S in August 1917, which I gather means Company Quarter master Sergeant.
To clarify things great gran had six brothers
Thomas Henry Dixon b.1878
Albert John Dixon b.1882
William Charles Dixon b.1889
George Dixon b.1894
Arthur Dixon b.1900
Ernest Dixon b.1902
Thomas I do not think fought. Albert definently fought in the Boer War. Williams record I have of course found, and George must have fought as there is the empty envelope from him in France 1917. I also think one of the younger brothers fought, there is a photo of a very young looking boy, and a family tale of a brother dying very young aged 15 or 16 at the front.
Of course it would help if great gran had written the names on these photos..but too late now.
Will put the other three up, hopefully if I can identify the uniforms, it may help me trace them.
Close up of Cap Badge:
This is the only one with a photographers stamp on the back, so I know it was taken in Salonika.
The cap doesn't appear to have a 'badge' more some sort of bobble.
This is the very young boy, who i think is probably Arthur, but may even conceivably be Ernest is family tale is true:
Royal Engineers again?
That's the lot...hopefully someone can help identify.
Photo 2 is also NOT a Royal Artillery cap badge
at first glance photograph number three would appear to be a badge from one of the county regiments and the one that would seem to fit would be the Essex Regiment with the keep in the centre surrounded by an oak leaf wreath and surmounted by a sphinx. The middle picture shows two Second Lieutenants with the photograph having been taken prior to 1917, if you can do a high res' image of the collar dogs (badges on the lapels) it might help to say which regiment that they belong too. The badge in photograph number one has me perplexed to say the least. My first thoughts were that it was of the Cheshire Regiment but as there is no scroll work under the main body of the badge that one is out............like I say it has me puzzled.
I found about 14 pages of cap badges on e-bay ..... couldn't see a definite match for anything :confused:
would it help if we knew where they lived ?
Thanks as ever for your input Don.t, is much appreciated, will see if I can scan rescan the collars.
Rachel, the family home was in Trumpington Road, Forest Gate, though the odler brothers moved into their own homes in the immediate area, Leytonstone, Stratford,West Ham all Essex County.
at first glance photograph number four would appear to be a badge from one of the county regiments and the one that would seem to fit would be the Essex Regiment with the keep in the centre surrounded by an oak leaf wreath and surmounted by a sphinx.
and here it is for anyone following this thread
Hi sorry, yes realised I'd wrongly put that as photo 3 just changed it.
I'd say that's spot on Rachel, even though the photo isn't clear they do look remarkably similar.
Right, looked up Dixon and the Essex regiment on the MIC's, and no Ernest but were two Arthurs:
Arthur Dixon Private 204328 409568
Essex Regiment Labour Corps
Victory Medal & British War Medal
Arthur Dixon Private 2318 300293
15 Star, British War Medal
K in Action 2/11/17
Theatre of War first served in. (2b) Balkans
Edit: Double checking sources!
Still no further on George who started this hunt..but very satisfying to have learnt more on William and Arthur.
Close up of Cap Badge:
You don't suppose this could be something other than a cap badge and he was having a joke ?
He looks very serious in the photo. I did wonder whether it's foreign, and maybe the photo is of a foreign soldier one of the brothers bought back? That said it is standard English 'Post Card' on the back.
But it looks like British uniform ... erm ... doesn't it :confused:
He could have borrowed the badge for fun and he's looking serious because he's trying not to laugh :(
here's a better one of the Essex badge
WW1 Essex Regiment Cap Badge. - £8.00 : Jusmilitaria, Specialists in Boer war and WW1 militaria (http://jusmilitaria.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_12&products_id=70)
I have to admit Rachel, I'm no expert on uniforms, they all look a bit similar to me, I don't know if it's maybe because I'm colour blind so the different shades of grey arn't too distinct! I do seem to remember the Russian/Serbs wore stars, if I'm right, which is where that train of thought come from, what with the other photo being taken in the balkans, but no probably your right, I think odds on he is British.
Don.t here is the rescan of the lapels, if it helps at all:
not much but to me it appears to be of two components. The lower part would be the scroll work with the regimental name set in it whilst the upper portion would be the main body of the badge. In this case I think that it is in the form of an animal facing inwards and the more I look at it the more it looks like the badge of The Queens (West Surrey) Regiment, commonly called The Mutton Lancer's due to their badge consisting of the Paschal Lamb and flag.... but I am ready to be corrected :).
Thanks again Don.t, there were 4 or 5 George Dixons in the Queens West Surreys on the M.I.C, and an Albert J, all could in theory be possible for great grans brothers. That said they are all privates, unlike the two in the photos, so probably not. I wonder would Essex men have been put in Surrey regiments (though the older brother Albert was born South of the river in Bermondsey, Surrey)? Forgive my ignorance on such matters!
On enlistment men would be placed where there was a shortage of man power which is why, no doubt, my own grandfather who was "born and bred" in the East End of London and served his attestation papers there, was placed into the Dorset Regiment.
My grandmother's brother was also born and bred in London and was killed in France serving with the Welsh Regiment.
I had been thinking that Essex could have been included in Middlesex at that time
I have people on censuses who started off being born in the county of Middx and decades later it says Essex
The counties and their boundaries changed so frequently
Thanks for the replies. Don.t have been having a look at the Paschal lamb and am convinced that you are right in any case. Assuming this was not used by any regiments other than Queens West Surreys then at least for that photo I now have the rank of the men, their regiment, and where the photo was taken..alot more info than I started with, even if I'm still for now in the dark as to who exactly these chaps were.
Apparantly the 14th battalion of the Queens West Surreys did get sent to Salonika, and were the only one of the regiment sent, so may have narrowed it down a little further.
I have records for someone in the Queens West Surrey and he was born in Middlesex
Paul Barton, Special Agent
In the first photo is there any significance in the fact that they are not wearing the regulation leggings or webbing or belts? They seem to be on a farm. The horses are pulling agricultural equipment and those curved corrugated sheets piled up on the right hand side look like something used in a piggery.
Paul that's an interesting theory. I'd assumed it was at the front, because of the desolate landscape, ie the broken trees in the background which suggests at some point the area had been subjected to continous heavy shelling. The corrugated iron being material used for the trenches and dug outs, and with the horse also in the pic, I suppose this all backs up the theory they are Royal Engineers, as my great grandfather was also in the Royal Engineers, a driver, and his main duties were carrying troops to and from the front by horse, and building and maintining the trenches.
Brilliant think I may have had a breakthrough:
Went back to the envelope that started this quest, and noticed it actually looked like there was a middle initial. The signature is very small and squashed up but could just make out what look like an A or F. I knew he was born circa 1894 so went on the BDM's and found the only George Dixon registered in West Ham around that time was a George Frederick Dixon Jan-March q 1895.
Armed with this new info went back to the M.I.C's and found whereas theres hundreds of George Dixons only a couple of George Frederick Dixons. First one I bought up seems to have bought up the jackpot:
George Frederick Dixon
Reg: Royal Berks Regiment
Rank: Liuetenant (x) as Capt.
Medals: R.Berks R. X OFF 42 73 N7152/WDF 17/2/22 NW/5/12103
Theatre of War first served in: Salonica 15.7.17
back of card:
Applied for medals 13-6-21
adress: 27 Kingsdown Road, Leytonstone E.11
I'm 99% certain this is great grans brother from the address. The Salonica part also jumped right out at me, as there is the photo of the two Lietenants in Salonika I have posted here that were in great grans photos. Surely that can't be coincidence.
Don.t is it possible the insignia relates not to to the West Surrey Royals, but the Royal Berks Regiment?
As an aside, I have also found a wonderful item tonight on the other brother William in the London Gazette, seems he won the distinguished conduct medal one down from the V.C:
47147 Sjt. W. C. Dixon, R.F.A.
Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in extinguishing a burning ammunition
dump single-handed and at imminent risk of his life. He carried water in a dixie and a
petrol tin under fire, and amidst constant and violent explosions, until he had put out
the flames. The day before he had done magnificent work in extricating and attending
to wounded comrades in a wrecked dugout, working under heavy shell fire throughout,
and setting a splendid example to all inhis battery.
That's fantastic news !!!! :)
I'm googling for Royal Berks Reg cap badges ... a bit confusing
royal berks reg + ww1 - Google Image Search (http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&q=royal%20berks%20reg%20%2B%20ww1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi)
eBay UK Shop - Croft Militaria Collectables: INFANTRY REGIMENT, THE CAVALRY REGIMENT, British Badges (http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Croft-Militaria-Collectables_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZ1QQfsubZ0QQftidZ2QQpZ4 QQtZkm)
Hi Rachel, thanks for the links.
I also found this photo of a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Berks Reg:
Alison L H 2nd Lt 1st R Berkshire Regt by World War One Photos (Artwork) in People (http://www.lulu.com/content/406119)
That said I still tend to think Don.t was right and it's the paschal lamb holding a cross on the insignia of the man I scanned rather than the Berks Dragon.
I think it's too much of a coincidence to have a photo of a 2nd Leiutenant in Salonika in great grans posessions, and to now find George was a leiutenant and served in Salonika. I suppose it's possible George is the seated man, and his insignia is different from the man standing who I used for the close up.
That said also found this photo reference on same site above:
Rossiter P 2nd Lt Royal Berkshire Regiment Attd 2nd The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) Photo
This suggests at least one other 2nd leiutenant in the Royal Berks was temporarily attached to the Queens Royal Surreys, and since battalions of both were in Salonika perhaps this was also the case for George?
Mystery solved it seems! The 2nd leuitenant on the right (seated) does appear to have different insignia after all:
I'm 99% sure that is the Royal Berks Dragon, you can see the little paw jutting up like in example below:
So that is George identified once and for all I think!
I posted his Medal Index Card up on the 1914-18 forum, and was also given a link to the war diaries of the Royal Berks, he is mentioned several times, it appears to back up what the M.I.C says he arrived July 1917 is Salonica, Greece, where the photo was taken in great grans posessions, it also confirms Don.t the M.IC may say Leiutenant/Captian, but he was still a 2nd Leiutenant during his stint in Greece. Last definite mention of him is October 1917, so I imagine with him sending the envelope back home from France in December 1917, he was relocated to the Western Front between Oct and Dec. I've also been told good chance his records may survive at Kew, being an officer.
I did say at the begining of the thread I'm constantly amazed at the minor miracles done on here with the identifying of photos, often from the littlest of details. I only really posted mine up here on the off chance of a small breakthrough, wasn't expecting much, so absolutely overjoyed the amount of info I now have on great grans brothers as a result. Take my hat off to you all! Thanks again to everyone who helped Don and Rachel especially. It is very very much appreciated.
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