The Collection of Second World War and Modern Gallantry Awards formed by the late William Oakley

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Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £4,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £4,500

A fine Second World War Normandy operations D.C.M. group of five awarded to Sergeant A. G. Dix, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who, in a classic battle of the Bocage, refused to be evacuated when seriously wounded
Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (5105178 Sjt. A. G. Dix, R. War. R.); 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, good very fine and better (5) £4000-4500

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 21 December 1944. The original recommendation for an immediate award states:

‘During an action at Butte de Chene, which lasted continuously from the evening of 29 July to the morning of 1 August 1944, Sergeant Dix was a Platoon Commander of ‘B’ Company, 1/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. This Company had been ordered to capture and hold the Butte de Chene feature. The enemy position was found to be very strongly held by infantry who were protected by artillery and mortars and whose positions were heavily protected by ‘S’ mines laid, in depth, along hedgerows.

Sergeant Dix’s platoon, although suffering many casualties, captured its own objective, but only through Sergeant Dix’s inspiring leadership, courage and disregard for his own safety. Sergeant Dix was severely wounded in the back and shoulders during the last stages of the attack, but remained in command of his platoon.

During the short period of daylight left, Sergeant Dix rapidly set about reorganising and consolidating his position, a task which he carried out without the assistance of his Company Commander who had been badly wounded. This task, already made difficult by many ‘S’ mines in the area, was successfully carried out despite the enemy’s heavy and continuous counter-fire with both mortars and Spandaus which continued throughout the night.

Throughout 30 July Sergeant Dix’s platoon was subjected to intensive enemy fire both from small arms and mortars and further casualties were suffered but Sergeant Dix by his frequent visits to his sections kept up the morale and fighting spirit of the remains of his platoon. During the night 30-31 July the new Company Commander took over ‘B’ Company and, noticing that Sergeant Dix was badly wounded, gave orders for him to be evacuated. Sergeant Dix, however, refused medical aid saying that his ‘men needed his presence in order to maintain the efficiency of the platoon as a fighting body as the devastating fire of the enemy tended to a certain extent to unnerve them.’

Sergeant Dix, therefore, remained with his platoon, which during the night beat off further counter-attacks by enemy infantry who had close heavy mortar and Spandau support. It was not until 1 August, when the enemy had failed to dislodge his platoon, and the situation was quieter, that Sergeant Dix allowed himself to be evacuated.

There is no doubt, whatsoever, that the courage, gallantry and high standard of leadership displayed by Sergeant Dix, coupled with his total disregard for his wounds and personal safety, resulted in this key portion of the battalion objective being captured and firmly held in our hands.’

Arthur George Dix, who was from Shipton in the Cotswolds, joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment around the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. Sometime thereafter posted to the 1/7th Battalion, he was awarded his D.C.M. during his unit’s advance on Caen, the regimental history stating of the fighting that took place between 29 July and 1 August 1944:

‘Accordingly, next afternoon, on 29 July, the 1/7th made a limited advance, with two squadrons of Churchill tanks in support and an artillery programme, to clear up suspected enemy localities in the Butte du Chene area.The attack was attended by a series of grievous mis-chances. In the first place, it proved extraordinarily difficult to keep direction and to maintain communications. In the second place, the enemy laid down a deadly carpet of mortar and shell-fire, affecting the forward companies and rear troops alike. Thirdly, the forward companies (B on the right, A on the left) were pinned by fire 400 yards short of their objective. Major Hancock (who had been awarded the MC for his part in the Landet Spur battle) and Captain Manton, commanding B and A Companies respectively, were both wounded. And, fourth, mines were encountered, in far greater profusion than anyone had anticipated.The personnel of one section of carriers sent forward to assist the rifle companies became casualties on dismounting into an area sown with S-mines. And then in the late evening, when D Company was ordered to come forward and establish itself south of Etregy, the party ran unsuspectingly into another area of S-mines. There were several casualties; and, by the worst blow of all, the Company Commander, Captain Bushill, was killed.

Meanwhile, however, B and A Companies had struggled on to their objectives. Much was owed here to Lieutenant D. E. Hosker, who was awarded the M.C. for his energetic and resourceful leadership of B Company after Major Hancock was wounded. Like other units in Normandy, the 1/7th was experiencing an acute shortage of officers. On arriving from England at this juncture, with the Battalion’s rear-party, Captain R. A. Purnell was put in command of A Company, to which he had belonged. But on the morning of 30 July, A Company was counter-attacked, Captain Purnell, was wounded, and his men fell back upon C Company in their rear.

Here, almost on top of the Battalion command post, they were joined with C Company, all under the leadership of Captain Soole. Not until the next day, 31 July, was Battalion H.Q. able to move back a little. All through 30 July the crump of enemy mortaring was heard around the position. Though everyone dug in, several more men became casualties, and movement of any kind was extremely risky. A Major of the King’s Regiment, sent by the Brigadier to help, took command of B Company, but in less than an hour had been wounded by mortaring. Where so few officers were left, the good N.C.Os who were left played an outstanding part. Sergeant A. G. Dix insisted on remaining with his platoon for three days after being hit in the back by mortar-fire. This splendid example of devotion to duty brought him the D.C.M.’

Dix’s D.C.M. was approved by Montgomery.