Tragic tale of young soldier from Scalby

Dixie Dean
Dixie Dean
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The life - and untimely death - of a young soldier from Scalby has featured on a ground-breaking TV programme on Channel 4.

The show, titled “D-Day: As It Happens” was a 24-hour history event broadcast across TV, web, mobile devices and social media, telling the story of this pivotal event in twentieth century history in a completely new way.

Using newly-analysed archive footage, viewers could track the progress of seven people who were there on the day - each a real participant in the 1944 invasion.

One of those featured on the programme was Ronald Cyril “Dixie” Dean, who was born on March 18, 1923 in Scalby.

He attended Scalby Church of England School as a young boy and prior to joining the services, Dixie was employed by coal merchants Messrs Fells before becoming a lorry driver.

Dixie enlisted in the Grenadier Guards, in Scarborough, when he was 19 years old and was keen to sign up on Normal Engagement so he could serve alongside his friends.

Shortly before D-Day, Dixie was held at a sealed camp in Titchfield which was run by Americans. Avoiding boredom, the troops organised their own entertainment through five-a-side football matches, boxing matches and nightly cinema viewings.

It was here that the troops were informed of “Operation Overlord”. They were shown photos, given briefings and issued with French Francs, although any place names remained shrouded in secrecy.

On the fateful morning, Dixie and his fellow troops were taken to Warsash before being boarded on landing craft and sent on their way to Sword Beach as part of the invasion of Normandy.

Dixie’s fate was revealed during last week’s show and on a Twitter account which had been set up in his name. To find out more, go to www.channel4.com/dday7