Clive Dixon 1924 - 2021
Clive Dixon, who has died at the age of 96, was born in 1924 in Darlington, County Durham. At the time his father was a tenant farmer on a 350 acre mixed farm. His Father came to Northbrook Farm in Micheldever in 1927, Clive was aged 3 years and his younger sister Audrey was 1.
The early years of life in Hampshire appeared pretty carefree. There are many photographs of him as a boy bombing round the farm on his motorbike – with his adored sister clinging on for dear life as the pillion passenger. Inevitably schooling had to feature and before long Clive was packed off as a young boarder to prep school in Dorset and then onto Canford public school. Despite being a natural sportsman and an accomplished wicket keeper and left-handed batsman in the first XI teams at all ages, he couldn’t wait to leave. The highlight of this period appeared to be the fact that his mother would, completely against the law, allow him to drive to and from Dorset from the age of 14 with her in the passenger seat!
He left school in 1942 and on reaching the age of 18 Clive signed up to join the army. A very rushed 6-month officer training course then followed at Sandhurst before he joined his regiment, The 24th Lancers, an armoured cavalry regiment, as a second lieutenant.
It wasn’t long before the regiment found itself boarding a ship in June 1944 as part of 8th Armoured Brigade of the Normandy invasion force. Arriving on a grey dawn at Gold Beach the chaos and congestion of the landings meant that a very unpleasant and anxious 12 hours were spent waiting offshore. It was at this time that the enormity of the task that lay ahead, together with the responsibility that a 19 year-old inevitably felt towards the men under his command, combined to have a huge and lasting effect on him. Landing on the beach was unopposed but this quickly all changed on day two when the enemy were encountered. It quickly became obvious to Clive that it was almost a case of boys against men and that they were up against a vastly superior and more experienced enemy. A journal, later published as a book, was kept by the regimental Doctor. One revealing insight says so much and reads “… I looked around at the weary men who only a few days earlier had presented as fresh-faced youths. They all appeared to have aged by 20 years in this short space of time.” Clive’s luck ran out on the evening before his 20th birthday when he was seriously wounded whilst under enemy fire. Clive was repatriated after recovering sufficiently to travel and was invalided out of the army in July 1944.
He embraced farming and living in Hampshire as a young eligible bachelor for at least 10 years before acknowledging that it was perhaps time to settle down, a bit. He met Angela who was living in Compton and working in Winchester and they married in 1954.
Farming in the mid-forties was a time of change. Horses were slowly being replaced with basic tractors but mechanisation as we know it today was very rudimentary. The first combine harvester arrived on the farm in a box and had to be assembled and towed by a tractor. Clive was always looking to find ways to improve techniques and remove some of the laborious drudgery of farming. He would become quite inventive as a consequence.
Outside of farming his passions included travelling, skiing, shooting, model railways, photography and videography. He never let having only one hand stop him indulging fully in all his hobbies.
In 1990 a new challenge suddenly appeared over the horizon. The owner of all the farmland around Micheldever Station and other local villages came up with the proposal for a 5000 house new town. As a tenant farmer of the landlord promoting this development, it might have been understandable to adopt a low-profile opposition to the plan. Clive’s view was that there was a principle at stake, with the future of the whole area at risk and it should be fought as much as possible. He would not be taking a low profile! The Dever Society was formed through the efforts of Clive, Nevil Wilson and Fergus Hughes-Onslow who was the first chairman. The success of the society in seeing off the early threat cannot be over-emphasised and the battle is still ongoing 30 years later.
A Micheldever resident for 93 years, he served on the Parish Council, was a church warden, and he was President of both the Hampshire Farmers Club and the Basingstoke and District Agricultural Society.
He was so proud of his grandchildren, loved giving them driving lessons around the farm, playing on his beloved train set with them or just simply sitting with them watching one of the many videos he had made.
We are given a chance to make a contribution to the world we are born into and it’s fair to say that Clive made a considerable contribution, in many different ways. He loved his life in farming, and always considered himself very fortunate to live in such lovely surroundings and to be a part of the wider agricultural community. He made many friends throughout his career in farming and valued those friendships.