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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Dixon, Graham Patrick (1873–1947)

by Bryan Gandevia and Margaret Steven

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Graham Patrick Dixon (1873-1947), soldier and surgeon, was born on 16 May 1873 in Brisbane, son of Joseph Black Dixon, bank-manager, and his wife Louisa Jane, née Sloan, both native-born. An outstanding scholar, he was educated at Brisbane Grammar School and the University of Sydney (Queensland exhibitioner 1891, Renwick and Harris scholar). He graduated in 1896 (M.B., Ch.M.), a university medallist and prizeman in surgery, anatomy and physiology.

Dixon's long association with the Children's Hospital, Brisbane, began in 1897 when he was appointed as a medical officer; from 1900 he was to act as honorary surgeon for long periods. In 1899 he set up what was to become a busy general practice at Maryborough where his alertness helped to arrest a plague epidemic in 1905. During 1910 he studied in England, Scotland, France and Switzerland, returning to Brisbane to practise as a consulting surgeon in Wickham Terrace.

Since 1900 Dixon had been a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps (militia), and in August 1914 he joined the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Imperial Force. He sailed for Egypt with the first contingent in September and was promoted major in October. He was one of the first medical officers ashore at Gallipoli where he served until the evacuation. In January 1916 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel and commander of the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance at Heliopolis. After refitting, the field ambulance established Bir Salmana camp and Dixon commanded his unit with distinction and selflessness through the battles of Minia, Romani and El Arish in the extraordinary conditions of the Sinai campaign. He assumed duty as assistant director of medical services, Anzac Mounted Division, in July 1917 as a temporary colonel, and for the next year followed the Palestine campaign. In April 1918 his rank was confirmed but soon afterwards he was invalided to Australia. During his four years continuous service in the field he had been conspicuous for efficient administration and wise surgery. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and in 1919 was appointed C.B.E.

In December 1918 Dixon was employed at the 6th Australian General Hospital at Kangaroo Point in Queensland. He also became surgeon at the Repatriation Hospital, Rosemount, where 'Dr Pat's' genial nature and compassionate care endeared him to the ex-servicemen he was to attend for twenty-seven years.

After the war Dixon returned to his practice as one of the leading surgeons of Brisbane and to the Children's Hospital. Of unassuming nature, he enjoyed the deep respect of his colleagues. He was a foundation fellow of the College of Surgeons of Australasia, and for many years was a councillor of the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association; he was president in 1922. He was a councillor of the Medical Defence Society and its president in 1945-47. From his student days he was an active sportsman and held trophies for horsemanship. He died, unmarried, on 7 August 1947 in Brisbane and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Book of Remembrance of the University of Sydney in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Syd, 1939)
  • London Gazette, 13 Dec 1916, 1, 22 Jan 1919
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 25 Oct 1947, 12 Mar 1966
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 9 Aug 1947
  • War diaries, 3rd Field Ambulance, and 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance, and Anzac Mounted Division, AIF (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Bryan Gandevia and Margaret Steven, 'Dixon, Graham Patrick (1873–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

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