John Dixon, born 1889 in Blackburn, was the son of William Dixon of Back Union-street. William was a tailor by trade, something that John, his eldest son, would soon start to practice in.
John had two brothers, William, an Apprentice Joiner, and William Fielding, a grocer’s assistant. He also had a sister, Florence. The family were wealthy enough to have a servant, Elizabeth Armstrong. As with so many love stories, Elizabeth fell in love with John, and the pair got married in 1913.
After war broke out, John did not instantly go to war, instead waiting to be conscripted in 1916. He joined the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment in March 1916, and was sent to the front line in September 1916.
By this stage, the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment, as part of 8th Division, had gone through the Somme campaign and was in desperate need of replacements. Their losses, like most Battalions, were heavy. By October, the Battalion was sent to Le Transloy, to remove the Germans from the ridge there. The weather had started to turn foul and was causing a lot of problems, with the rain making the area exceptionally muddy.
“On the night of the 18th/19th October the 8th Division relieved the 6th Division, with all three brigades on the line, Les Bceufs-Guedecourt. This relief was preparatory to an attack to be made by the XIV Corps, in conjunction with a French Corps on its right, with the object of establishing a line from which the German position known as the Transloy ridges could be attacked from the south-west.
The first objective of the battalion was "Mild" trench, from the 8th Division left boundary to the junction of "Cloudy" and "Sunray" trenches, where the existence of a "strong point" was suspected. This, thought to be a detached post, was afterwards found to be part of the main trench.
Neither the Division on the left of the battalion, nor the 2nd Northants on the right were to attack, but the latter was ordered to assist the right flank of the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment as much as possible, and with this object the greater number of the machine-guns of the brigade were attached
to the 2nd Northants.
Zero hour was fixed for 11.30 a.m., but four minutes before that time a liaison officer from Brigade Headquarters arrived at Battalion Headquarters with orders to postpone the attack until 2.30 p.m. This was the second occasion within four months that zero had been postponed and postponed so late that the information did not reach those principally concerned—the men in the trenches—until after the original zero hour.
The adjutant of the battalion (Lieutenant W. E. Lowe), who was a noted sprinter, did record time to the trenches, but would have been too late to avert a catastrophe if an artillery observing officer in the front trenches had not got information of the change of time, and passed it on to the company commanders just in time to stop the advance. As it was the heavy artillery began to shell the enemy trenches at 11.30 a.m., and unfortunately included "Rainbow" trench in their targets. The result was several casualties at Battalion Headquarters, and considerable damage to the trench and its only dug-out. The attack commenced at 2.30 p.m. under a moving barrage, with a fixed barrage on the objective. "A" and "D" Companies attacked in two waves with such dash that the first wave carried the first trench in one bound and captured the whole of the first objective, except the strong point already mentioned. The second wave passed through the first and over a low crest, where it came under very hot fire and suffered heavy casualties, which included all the officers, except one, killed or wounded; it was therefore withdrawn to "Mild" trench. During the afternoon a block was built at the junction of "Mild" and "Stormy" trenches, and another close to the German strong point ; these were attacked by the enemy, who were easily repulsed, largely by the use of their own bombs, which had been found in large numbers in the captured trench. "A" and "D" Companies were relieved about 5 p.m., by "B" and "C" Companies, and a company from the brigade reserve was sent up to "Shine" trench.
On the two following days and nights the captured trench was consolidated, and communication trenches were dug from "Mild" to "Shine" trench, and from "Rainbow" trench to the sunken road. All this work was carried out under great difficulties, due to very bad weather, enemy artillery fire, and the shortage of rations.”
It was in this battle, on 23rd October, that John Dixon was killed. His body was never found. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme, Pier and Face 6 C.