Private 302585 Thomas Nicholls

Killed in Action on Thursday, 20th September 1917, age 26.
Commemorated on Panel 128 to 131 and 162 and 162A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

13th Bn., Durham Light Infantry. 68th Brigade of 23rd Division.

Son of Isaac and Emily Nicholls, of 12, Johnson's Row, Bath St., Cinder Hill, Bilston, Staffs; husband of Florence Tranter (formerly Nicholls), of 24, Clifton St., Hurst Hill, Bilston, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Bilston, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 16th June 1917.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

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/832210/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
14 Johnson's Row, Beacon Street, Coseley, Staffs.
Isaac Nicholls (35, Iron Hoop Worker, born Bilston), his wife Emily (36, born Bilston), and their 5 children: William (15, Hollowware Moulder, born Bilston), Arthur (13, Hollowware Moulder, born Bilston), Thomas (9, born Bilston), Isaac (6, born Bilston), and Prudence (2, born Bilston).

1911 Census
12 Johnson Row, Cinder Hill, Bilston, Staffs.
Isaac Nicholls (48, Labourer, born Bilston), his wife Emily (47, born Bilston), and 6 of their surviving 7 children of 9: Thomas (19, Road Macadam Labourer, born Bilston), Isaac (16, Labourer, born Bilston), Prudence (12, born Bilston), Emily (8, born Bilston), Samuel (6, born Bilston), and Elizabeth (5, born Bilston).

Marriage of Thomas Nicholls and Florence Nicholls registered December quarter 1915 in Dudley.

Personal Data

Soldiers Died in the Great War' says Thomas Nicholls was born in Tipton, but everything else suggests that Bilston was his birthplace.

Thomas attested on 11th December 1915, probably under the Derby Scheme, and was not called-up until 27th October 1916. He was 24 years and 151 days old, and employed as a Tarmac Worker. His address was initially given as 12 Johnson's Row, his parents' home, but later changed to 118 Clifton Street, Cinder Bank. He was very recently married, on 14th November, to Florence Nicholls.

He embarked from Folkestone to Boulogne, and was at the 35th Infantry Base Depot at Etaples, before being allocated to the 13th Durham Light Infantry on 5th July 1917, and joining them on 8th July. This was just after the Battle of Messines Ridge, their next significant action was to be during Third Ypres on 20th September.

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/13/6d (2 pounds, 13 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his widow, Florence, in February 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Florence in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Thomas and Florence had no children, so Florence was given a pension of 15 shillings and nine pence per week.

Action resulting in his death

After Messines Ridge, 23rd Division had been training for their part in the Third Battle of Ypres, and this arrived on 20th September with the Battle of Menin Road.

20th September was a successful day for the Allies. On a frontage of about 6 miles most objectives were taken before midday to a depth of almost a mile; by the standards of most attacks this was indeed a success. Germans counter-attacks from around 3pm until early evening were unsuccessful. The battle continued until the 25th September, with allied losses being quoted as 3,148 killed.

The 13th Durham Light Infantry had 59 Other Ranks killed on 20th September, including Thomas Nicholl. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

For anyone wanting greater detail, the following may satisfy.
In October 1916 the 13th DLI moved from the Somme to Belgium spending time at Zillebeke, Hill 60, and Mont de Cats before training for the Battle of Menin Road - part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), scheduled for 20th September 1917.

The night of the 19th September was wet, but in the morning the sky cleared and a light mist helped conceal the movement of the troops. On September 20th, the 23rd Div attacked north of the 41st Div. The 13th was to come through the Fusiliers to capture the 'Green' Line.

Battalion War Diary.
19th September 1917
The battalion left Dickebusch under the command of Capt. DH Clarke MC, and manned the Railway Dugouts and rested there until 7.45pm when they moved up to assembly trenches at Torr Top. Casualties: 3 Other Ranks wounded.
20th September 1917
Battalion HQ moved to advance Battalion HQ J.19 b 10.25.
Zero Hour the battalion moved forward from JAM AREA arriving on the Blue Line at 8.50am. Battalion HQ established at J.20 b.7.4.
The Battalion advanced from the Blue Line to attack the Green Line
German prisoners passed Battalion HQ, about 150 in all.
The Green Line was captured and consolidation in progress.
Enemy massing on left of Menin Road near Gheluvelt.
122nd Infantry Brigade attacked the Green Line again on our right.
The S.O.S. was put up on the right and left and our artillery put down an intense barrage immediately.
Owing to the 122nd Brigade 'faulting' on our right flank at TOWER HAMLETS, the GOC 68th Brigade ordered 1 of our companies and 1 other company to join up from Strong Point 'D' to right of our line.

Newspaper Cuttings