Robert A. Dixon

Branch: ARMY
Service Number: 13002955
Rank: Private
Outfit: 3rd Infantry Div, 15th Infantry Reg, Co. “C”

November 13th marks the 74th anniversary of the death of Mt. Ephraim soldier, Private Robert A. Dixon.

Robert was born on August 2nd, 1909 in Port Carbon, Pennsylvania to parents Albert and Mary Dixon.  Robert had a twin brother Richard, who died of pneumonia at the age of 2.   Albert had 4 sons from a previous marriage, Leo born in 1893, Arthur in 1899, William in 1902, and Jerome born in 1907.  They all resided on Third Street in Port Carbon, a coal mining town in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  It is located approximately 80 miles northwest of Mount Ephraim, New Jersey. 

Robert's mother passed away around 1915, when he was just a young boy.  He attended school up to the 7th grade and by the age of 19, he moved out on his own, working as a laborer for the railroad but still residing in Port Carbon. By early 1940, Robert moved to Muncy Creek Township, situated a few miles east of Williamsport, PA., where he worked for a lumber company. 

12 S. Oak Avenue Mt. Ephraim
On August 28, 1940, Robert enlisted into the Army at Harrisburg, PA. At some point after basic training, he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 15th Infantry Regiment. He could have been under the command of then Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, who headed the 1st Battalion of the 15th until November 1940 then becoming the Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry Division. According to the local Camden history website, Dixon was further tasked to be the drummer for the 15th Regiment band.  While on leave, Robert moved in with his brother Arthur and his father Albert, who were now residing at 12 South Oak Ave, in Mt. Ephraim. 
3rd Infantry Div. logo

After a furlough in June 1943, Robert was shipped to El Alia,Tunisia where the 3rd Infantry Division were rehearsing amphibious landing operations for the upcoming invasion of Sicily which took place on July 10th. While overseas, he sent letters home to his family from North Africa and Italy. At this point I am unsure, but I believe he continued to perform with the 15th Regimental Band as the rest of the division made it’s way through Sicily and then onto the mainland of Italy at Battipaglia by September 18th, 1943.

Aerial view of Mignano Gap
 The 3rd Infantry Division fought their way northwest through Italy to the village of Mignano by November 4th.   This area was situated in a natural gap protected to the east by Mount Lungo and west by Mount Rotundo.  The ground atop these two hills were covered with well positioned German gun emplacements, minefields and tank traps.  Mignano held great value to the enemy as it was used as a communication center and a blockade to the plains just beyond the gap.  The fight to capture the area was a struggle.  The Germans had an early advantage being on high ground, repelling the allied advance for days and inflicting heavy casualties.

15th Infantry Reg. logo
On November 12th, Private Robert A. Dixon was transferred to Company C of the 15th Infantry Regiment as a rifleman to replenish the “dogface soldiers” of the first battalion.  It is possible that Robert could have been in the presence of famed soldier Audie Murphy who was also with the 1st Battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment, Company B.

A patrol that included Private Dixon was sent out at 11am on November 13th to scout along the slope of Mt. Rotundo and attempt to make contact with the enemy.  The Germans obliged by unleashing a tremendous artillery barrage onto the patrol’s location.  Dixon was killed instantly when shrapnel ripped through his chest, arm and shoulder. 

Found in a pocket of Dixon’s uniform was a single coin; a quarter, and a muddy piece of tattered mimeographed paper.  It was a clothing and equipment order from the 29th Replacement Battalion issued to him only 5 days prior on November 8th. The heading, shown in pencil, read “15th Inf 3rd-RTU” (Returned To Unit). The articles of clothing were listed as shown: Raincoat: Medium, Shirt: 14 1/2 x 33, Trousers: 32 x 33, Shoes: service 9c. At the bottom of the form, was a signature written in pencil, “Robert A. Dixon, ASN 13002955.”  Captain Dio P. Richardson, a commanding officer of 15th Infantry’s C Company tried his best to read this mangled paper, but interpreted the signature to be “Robert A. Dobon, ASN 13002458.”  The form of handwriting and condition of the paper made it nearly impossible to determination the correct identity of the soldier.  This mix-up led to Dixon being classified as missing in action. 

Back at home, Robert’s father Albert would never get to hear the news of his son’s death.  He died from cardiac failure at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia just one day after Private Dixon was killed in action.   Robert’s brother, Arthur would later receive a telegram from the War Department dated December 10, 1943 stating that he was listed as missing in action.  Arthur contacted the army to change the next of kin from his now deceased father to himself.  He would handle the correspondence from the military when it came to his brother’s affairs.  The Dixon family would not receive official word of Robert’s death until mid-March 1944 after officials were able to correctly determine his identification. They had tracked down the original copy of the paperwork found in his pocket to have come from the 2nd Platoon of the 48th Quartermasters Company. They were also able to verify from 15th Infantry Regiment Morning Reports, to show that he had been killed at 1200 hours on November 13th in the area of Mt. Rotundo.

Private Robert A. Dixon was originally buried at Marzanello Nuovo Cemetery in Italy on November 17, 1943, but later removed from this location to his final resting location at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy. This is the same location that Mt. Ephraim soldier, Willibold Stefan is interred.  Robert was survived by his brothers Arthur, Leo, and William. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.
Dixon grave marker

May their sacrifice never be forgotten.


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