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RSPCA Silver Medal Saving a Dog with his Teeth

RSPCA Silver Medal to Cheshire Sportsman and Boxer Willis Dixon, a dog lover who immediately upon hearing of an imprisoned dog set off to rescue it risking his life.

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RSPCA R.S.P.C.A. Silver Medal for Saving Life, awarded to Willis Dixon during 1930.


Fitted with original ribbon and “FOR HUMANITY” wearing brooch, in fitted case of issue.


Engraved on the rim: “WILLIS DIXON”,


Staffordshire Sentinel 5th November 1929:




Mr Willis Dixon, a member of the Chester Municipal Offices Staff, and a well known local sportsman, succeeded in rescuing a dog from the bottom of a well, 270 feet deep at Res-y-Cae, Halkyn Mountain, Holywell, on Monday Night.


News of the Dog’s imprisonment was read out at the Chester Boxing Club of which Mr Dixon was a member.


Mr Dixon immediately organised a rescue party, and travelled by car to Holywell, equipped with Rescue Apparatus.


The Dog had been imprisoned in the well which at the moment is dry for some days but had been fed by the villagers.
Member of the Party, included Mr B Sarrell, Mr H Slade and Mr W Harris.


Villagers had warned Mr Dixon of the great danger involved in attempting the descent, for it was dark when the rescue attempt was made.
Lanterns had been lowered into the well, which is so deep that the light could not be seen from the top. Mr Dixon was determined to make the descent, and he was lowered down tied to a rope. it was a hazardous task, but he was determined not to give up.




Slowly and slowly he was lowered and, jsut when it was thought that the rope would not be long enough, Mr Dixon gave the signal that he was at the bottom.


He got hold of the dog and was drawn up to the top. When he reached the surface he was exhausted, but quickly revived.
Mr Dixon carried the dog by his teeth, as his arm was entangled in the rope. He says there is another dog at the bottom of the well, and it is expected that a rescue attempt will be made today.


Mr Dixon, is a member of the Grosvenor Rowing Club and 2 years ago at Chester Regatta he had won the Maiden Sculls. He is a well known Amateur Boxer and Tennis Player.


The Brief Summary from the Chester Chronicle, 23rd Nov 1929:




The Chronicle is informed that the Bravery show by Mr Willis Dixon, of the Queen’s Head Hotel in Foregate Street, Chester, and Mr James Arthur Williams, of Haul y Bryn Rheyscae, in rescuing 2 dogs from the disused mine shaft at Rheyscae, near Holywell, a fortnight ago, has been recognised, and both Gentlemen are to be present with the Silver Medals by the RSPCA for their Heroism.
The decision has been arrived at by the RSCPA Council, the medals are the highest awards given by the society.




The dog that was rescued by Williams was destroyed owing to the fact that the animal’s leg was broken, and owing to his emaciated condition, due to long confinement in the mine.


The owner of the Collies rescued by Mr Dixon has not been traced, and with the consent of the local RSPCA Inspector, the dog has been given to mr Ellis Jones, of 2 Stourton Street, Wallasey, who issued the Newspaper S.O.S. for the dog’s rescue.
Mr Jones had desired the ownership of the dog since he had first discovered it imprisoned in the mine-shaft but this has only just been granted, following a futile effort to trace the original owner.”


The investiture of both Mr JA Williams MM and Willis Dixon is recounted in great detail in the Flintshire County Herald, 17th January 1930:


“The presentation of the Silver Medal of the Assn to Mr J.A. Williams for his rescue work at Rheyscae, was next item on the agenda, and Mr G.E. Boyer, one of the secretaries, addressing the meeting, said that he though that the public really under estimated the heroism of the men who risked their lives in this rescue.
They were accustomed to see colliers go down underground, but there was a great deal of difference between going down a coal pit with all its works and machinery in proper order, and going down a shaft that had not been used for years.
They had an excellent man in Mr Smith, who had improvised the lowering apparatus. He wanted them to realise that the shaft was rotten and might crumble at any time.
Anyone who undertook to go down one of these old shafts never knew when it might fall in on him with, perhaps fatal results.
Then they might meet more or less foul air and the air in this particular shaft was very foul owing to the presence of the bodies of sheep that had fallen into it.
He was glad to think that a local man was found heroic enough to risk his life (Applause).




When their inspector reached Rheyscae they had to rig an apparatus for lowering the man down the well and this took the whole of Monday. Mr Williams came down in the evening and found that the apparatus was not ready and said he would go down the next day.


Mr DIXON came from Chester, the next morning and found the apparatus which had been got ready for WIlliams and was allowed to use it.


Now there was a feeling about that Dixon was more meritorious than Williams, but that was not so, as he had promised to go down the shaft and did so.


Willis Dixon, of Chester, and Jas Arthur Williams, of Rheyscae, were reported to the headquarters of the Society of London, and the Society awarded both of them their highest award – The Silver Medal (applause).


Mr Williams had also won the M.M. in the War, and was now awarded the Silver Medal for Humanity. They were splendid qualities and were seldom found in the same person.


The Silver Medal was then presented to Mr JA Williams by Mrs Lloyd Williams amid hearty Applause


The Reverend Stafford Thomas then proposed ‘That this meeting of Animal Lovers, desires to record its appreciation and thanks to Mr Willis Dixon and Mr Jas Arthur Williams, for their bravery and humanity towards the dogs in distress at Rheyscae.”