Indigenous Australian, Driver Percy Dixon, 9th Field Artillery Brigade.
Percy Dixon was just 21 years old when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in April 1916.
Born in Springsure to Richard and Jemima Dixon (Leopold) in 1895 he was working as a stockman at Goathlands station, south of Springsure before he enlisted in Emerald.
Selected to join the Artillery he trained at the “Warren” artillery camp, Marrickville, NSW before embarking on board ‘HMAT Benalla’ with the 9th Field Artillery Brigade.
During the voyage he was admitted to the ships hospital complaining of pain in his back, neck and head. Diagnosed with Cerebro Spinal Meningitis he was evacuated from the ship when they reached South Africa to be treated at the Quarantine Hospital on Salisbury Island off Capetown.
As he recovered, he was transferred to the Caister Convalescent Home at Capetown, but was not considered fit enough to continue on active service. In April 1917 he was returned to Australia and discharged medically unfit.
When his friend and employer John Cunningham Wells was notified of his illness he wrote:
“It is hard luck that our brave lads should be struck down with that horrid complaint before being given a chance to strike a blow in defence of their country.”
Percy Dixon returned to north Queensland and became a taxi driver, a job he retained until – undeterred he again enlisted for service in the Second World War in 1942. He was appointed to 127 Australian General Transport Company which was based in Townsville.
In May 1945 he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with a form of Tuberculosis that effects the lungs and spine. Relieved of his duties he was transferred to 102 Military Hospital in Holland Park, Brisbane and later convalesced at 112 Military Hospital, Kangaroo Point.
Percy Dixon never recovered from this disease and died at Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital in July 1947. He was fondly remembered by citizens of Cairns, as a driver for ‘Tropical Taxis’ and by his brother Albert (Bertie) and family who lived in Oxley. His brother Bertie Dixon, also enlisted in 1916 but was subsequently discharged.
Read more …
- Service record: DIXON, Percy
- Embarkation roll: 6th Reinf. 9th Field Artillery Brigade
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 23 December 1916
- Funeral notice: Courier Mail, 15 July 1947, p12
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland