Guardsman Ronald Dean – Scalby’s ‘D’ Day Hero

Dean RC Dixie dixie




Ronald Cyril ‘Dixie’ Dean was born in Scarborough on 18 March 1923.  His father, Walter, was also born in Scarborough but moved to Greater Manchester as a child.  However, Walter returned to Scarborough and married Alice Abram in 1922. In 1911 her family lived at 7 Yew Court Cottages, Scalby and five of them are buried in the churchyard here. Ronald attended Scalby Church of England School:  the building that is now St Laurence’s Church Rooms.  Probably this is where he gained his nickname of ‘Dixie’, after Dixie Dean, the prolific goalscorer for Everton, who set a record of 60 goals in the 1927-28 season.

When he grew up Dixie worked for Fells coal merchants of Huntriss Row, and later became a lorry driver.  He enlisted in the Grenadier Guards in Scarborough when he was 19 years old and by the time he was 21 had volunteered to join the Commandos.  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 games, 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 secret.  Lord Lovat, Commander of No. 1 Special Service Brigade, gave his 3,500 men a final, rousing speech.  Their specific orders were to move swiftly off the beach, ‘get to the bridges’ and link up with the paratroopers.  On 5 June 1944 Dixie and his fellow troops were taken to Warsash, a village on the River Hamble, between Southampton and the Isle of Wight.  Dixie and his fellow members of No. 3 Troop were issued with bicycles which they took onto the landing craft with them and set off for Sword Beach as part of the invasion of Normandy.

We have a detailed account of Dixie’s last hours since his fellow Commando and friend Stan ‘Scotty’ Scott wrote a book about his experiences, entitled ‘Fighting with the Commandos’.  They landed at 9.13am on 6 June and struggled up the beach into an area that the Germans had flooded.  They then had to drag their bicycles through mud, reeds and water, sometimes knee deep, sometimes up to their armpits.  German troops lobbed mortar bombs at them but these just went ‘plop’ in the mud.  They came under fire near the Orne Bridge

and decided to pedal for their lives across it.  3 Troop all made it and carried on to the town of Amfreville to help the 12th Battalion.  They approached the town on foot, cautiously going uphill and as they went around a corner a Maxim machine gun opened up and hit 4 of them, cutting off the leg of one man and killing Dixie.  The Commandos went on to capture Amfreville by 4.30pm and by midnight had advanced 6 miles inland.

Dixie Dean is buried in Ranville War Cemetery in a plot near to the cross of sacrifice, along with 2,234 other Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 330 German graves.  Many of the casualties were troops of the 6th Airborne Division who landed nearby by parachute and glider.  Dixie is also remembered by name at the Commando Memorial at the National Arboretum, Alrewas.,%20RONALD%20CYRIL

7 thoughts on “Guardsman Ronald Dean – Scalby’s ‘D’ Day Hero

  1. Thank you Dixie for your service and sacrifice. Your story is inspiring. R.I.P.
    My uncle John Notman No4 Commando died on 2 July,1944 aged 22 and is buried in Ranville close to you and your brothers in arms.


    • Hello, very inspiring. My great Uncle, Finlay Campbell, 45 Commando, was killed in action on 2 July 1944 and is also buried in Ranville. Such heros. RIP

  2. Hello Jo,
    Although we are far away, you are in my thoughts and I send you my never-ending gratitude for your great uncle’s service and sacrifice. One of the finest of young men. Thank You Finlay.

  3. Dixie Dean was my grandfather’s nephew. We are doing the family tree and we discovered him today. I noticed his parents lost their daughter when she was only 10 years old. Dixie was their last surviving child, from what I have discovered. Words can’t express the grief and loss the parents and families must have experienced.during this time. We must never forget what they sacrificed for us..

    • My name is Paul Sunderland Dixie was my uncle I am going to Normandy on the 14th of April 2017 to see his head stone my mother was Francis Jone Sunderland she was dixie’s sister they also had another brother called Les Dean he worked on the door at the working men’s club for a lot of years hope this helps you a bit with your family tree

  4. We visited this year and someone had printed this out along with other info and a few flags. Well done to how ever did this. We Holiday a mile of so from Achnacarry and read its history on where the Commando was born and trained in the Highlands. I first thought after watching Ch4 D-day Dixie would have been up Olivers mount that we have visited for years during family holidays. Disappointed his name was not there I looked up on my Iphone and found he was born in Scalby. In 2013 we found his name in the wee church their, hard to find. This year we returned on the passing to find all the information and area cleaned.

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