Dixie Lee's story

Dixie Lee's father and uncle both served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during and after World War I. When their ships arrived in Burnie, Dixie would go aboard. Thinking back on that time, Dixie remembered that he liked everything about the navy, including the cakes made on board.

At the age of 17, during World War II, Dixie followed in his family's footsteps. He joined the RANin August 1941.

Initially, Dixie served on HMAS Manoora and then HMAS Moreton as a telegraphist. Then he became a Coastwatcher with the Allied Intelligence Bureau in 1943.

As a Coastwatcher, Dixie served at Vila in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), Guadalcanal and the Treasury Islands (in modern-day Solomon Islands), Torokina, Lae, Nadzab and Finschhafen (in modern-day Papua New Guinea).

Coastwatchers played a vital intelligence-gathering role, using existing radio stations or tele-radios to report enemy movements and any other information of value.

Dixie later remembered that during his service as a Coastwatcher ‘rank did not matter'. The team worked together and were concerned with ‘doing the job and staying alive'. Dixie greatly admired one member of his team in particular – Lieutenant ‘Snowy' Rhoades, a World War I officer. To Dixie, Lieutenant Rhoades was ‘fearless but smart and resourceful', and he was ‘the glue that held the team together during difficult operations'.

During his time as a Coastwatcher, Dixie made friends with many of the local people who provided valuable intelligence support.

In the 1970s, Dixie returned to the Treasury Island group and Bougainville, reuniting with old friends. He spent 3 years living on a yacht he had built himself, working as a surveyor in Bougainville.

Dixie took his discharge from the RAN in March 1946. He went on to a career as a licenced land surveyor.

Last updated: 1 May 2020

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2020), Dixie Lee's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 3 August 2021, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories-service/veterans-stories/dixie-lees-story
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