Private 9437 Thomas Nicholas

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 24th November 1915, age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 73 to 76 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of Philip and Sarah Elizabeth Nicholas, of 10 House, 10 Court, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 17th December 1914.
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/1765703/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Thomas Nicholas registered September quarter 1893 in Dudley.

1901 Census
No trace found

1911 Census
10 House 10 Court, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Philip Nicholas (45, General Labourer, born Burton-upon-Trent), his wife Sarah Elizabeth (45, born West Bromwich), and their 5 surviving children of 6: William Jones (21, Step-son, born Tipton), Thomas Nicholas (17, born Tipton), Jane Nicholas (15, born Tipton), Philip Nicholas (11, born Tipton), and Edwin Nicholas (8, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Thomas's death, his army pay and allowances had been overpaid to the value of £4/18/0¾d (3 pounds, 13 shillings and 3 farthings). His parents were informed of this Debit balance in May 1916, but there is no record if repayment was ever requested or made. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was paid to his father, Philip, in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted in approximately August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

On 24th November 1915 the Germans exploded a mine underneath the South Stafford's trenches in a position known as 'Gibson's Crater', near Cuinchy. The explosion buried 23 men, and although efforts were made to rescue them, 15 were unaccounted for. There were 3 Tipton men killed on the 24th November with the 2nd South Staffs, Privates Thomas Nicholas, Arthur Eades and David Richards. None of the 3 has a known grave, all are commemorated on the Loos Memorial, so could be included in the 15 unaccounted men.

24th November 1915 2nd South Staffs War Diary:
There was some shelling of our line by heavy howitzers during the morning but no damage was done. Mining was suspected under the northern lip of GIBSON'S CRATER, but this was not confirmed by the officer in charge of mining operations who was consulted in the matter. 2/Lieut. E.P.S. BURNETT was wounded by a rifle-grenade in the course of the morning. About 3 pm one company 18th Royal Fusiliers arrived on detachment to the Battalion and relieved 'B' Company. At about 4.30 pm the enemy exploded a mine directly under GIBSON'S CRATER and buried the whole of the garrison with the exception of two men who were blown some distance and killed. 2/Lieut. A.P. PRIOR, who was now in command of 'A' Company, immediately organised and at once commenced the work of rescue and 6 men who had been partially buried were eventually dug out. 2/Lieut. W.H. CARTER, who was sent up from Battalion Headquarters, immediately organised a fresh bombing party and occupied the lip of the crater, where bombing was continued through the night. The crater was subjected to a heavy fire of rifle-grenades and 2/Lieuts A.P. PRIOR and W.H. CARTER were slightly wounded. About 9.30 pm a sudden shower of bombs and rifle-grenades caused our men to evacuate the crater, which was immediately re-occupied.

Harry Carter's M.C.
2nd Lieut W. H. Carter att 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regt (London Gazette 23rd Dec 1915) Military Cross:

"For consistent good work throughout the campaign, notably on 24th November 1915"
"The enemy exploded a mine under Gibson's Crater, south of the La Bassée road, killing and wounding most of the garrison. Lieutenant Carter at once went up and commenced reorganising the defence of the crater. He was slightly wounded, but remained at his post, and it was mainly due to his courage and example that two hostile bomb attacks on the crater were repulsed. He also organised a bomb attack on the enemy, thus keeping them quiet for four hours, while the position was consolidated."

Newspaper Cuttings