Private 15702 Percy Nicholas

Killed in Action on Saturday, 25th September 1915, age unknown.
Commemorated on Panel 38 and 39 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

8th Bn., Somerset Light Infantry. 63rd Brigade of 21st Division.
Formerly 14279 Northumberland Fusiliers.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Thornaby-on-Tees, Yorks., Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 8th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1765716/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
2 Wesley Street, Sedgley, Staffs.
William Nicholls (39, Sheet Galvaniser, born Tipton), his wife Susan (29, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Percy (15, Iron Moulder, born Tipton), Ethel (14, born Tipton), Daisy (7, born Tipton), Willie (5, born Sedgley), Harold (3, born Sedgley), and Ernest (11 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
1 Gilmour Street, Thornaby-on-Tees, N. Yorks.
William Nicholls (49, Galvaniser - Dipper, born Tipton), his wife Susan (39, born Tipton), and their 7 surviving children of 9: Percy (23, Galvaniser's Dipper, born Tipton), William (15, Apprentice Galvaniser, born Tipton), Harold (13, Newsboy, born Tipton), Ernest (10, School, born Tipton), Tom (7, born Thornaby-on-Tees), Olive (5, born Thornaby-on-Tees), and Laurence (3, born Thornaby-on-Tees).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The 8th Somerst Light Infantry, as part of 21st Division, landed at Le Havre on 10th September 1915, this provided almost no time to gain battle experience before the Battle of Loos.

Their War Diary does not record much about the first day of the Battle of Loos when Percy Nicholls lost his life, but more information was recorded by Major L.C. Howard. At 7pm Major Howard was ordered to take 'B' and 'C' Companies forward to make good the Hulluch-Lens road, 'A' and 'D' Companies were to follow-on in support. During the advance "... we were under machine-gun fire ... but had only 2 casualties." He also recalls that 'A' and 'D' Companies had 'gone astray' and never found their way forward.

The 63rd Brigade Commander's report showed that the "missing" companies had in fact taken part in the attack on Hill 70. Part of 'A' Company had been seen searching the cellars and dug-outs of Loos itself "...one section of No. 4 Platoon entirely disappeared whilst so engaged". 'D' Company had fared little better as they were engaged mainly around the slag heaps.

The 8th SLI had 76 men killed on the 25th September. Most of these men are recorded on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner, Percy Nicholas amongst them.

The use of the 21st and 28th Divisions are reserve for the day was to have repercussuions. The BEF was commanded by French and he was unwilling to give Haig full control of the 21st and 28th Divisions. on the day. The 21st and 28th 'New Army' Divisions had been held too far back and their march was tiring. They arrived on a confused battlefield with no prior battlefield experience and little idea of what their objectives were. It is not surprising that they suffered so badly.

After the conclusion of the Battle of Loos, French was relieved of his command, to be replaced by Haig.

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