Private 203385 John Nicklin

Nicklin John 96 434x600Nicklin John 96 378x600

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 14th March 1917, age 23.
Buried in Grave B.II. at Rossignol Wood Cemetery, Hebuterne, Pas De Calais, France.

1st/5th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.
Formerly 26881 & 20092 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Son of John and Annie Nicklin, of 10 Furnace Parade, Tipton, Staffs. Born at Kidderminster.
Born: Kidderminster, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 5th March 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/590560/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
3 Brick Kiln Street, Tipton, Staffs.
John Nicklin (40, Blast Furnace Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Annie (27, born Wednesbury), and their 4 children: John (7, born Kidderminster), Samuel (6, born Tipton), Arthur (3, born Tipton), Bert (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
10 Furnace Parade, Tipton, Staffs.
John Nicklin (54, Galvanised Sheet Packer, born Tipton), his wife Annie (40, born Tipton), and their 8 children: John (18, Galvanised Sheet Packer, born Kidderminster), Samuel (16, Assistant Moulder, born Tipton), Arthur (13, Rod Screwer, born Tipton), Bert (11, School, born Tipton), Florence (9, School, born Tipton), James (7, School, born Tipton), Sarah Anne (5, School, born Tipton), and Mary (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The 1/5th South Staffs marched nearly five miles from Souastre to their starting lines at Biez Wood for a night attack on the German lines near Bucquoy on 13th/14th March 1917. They arrived at Biez Wood only one hour before the attack and, although exhausted, immediately formed up for the attack which commenced at 1am.

Almost immediately they were hit by machine gun fire that caused numerous casualties. The German wire was, by and large, uncut by the preliminary barrage and any gaps that were found caused a bunching up of troops who were immediately cut down. The battalion retired at 6.30am to a trench system between Biez Wood and Square Wood with 160 casualties for no gain.

John Shipton, John Nicklin and Frank Wootton, all men of Tipton, were killed in this attack and lie almost side by side in Rossignol Wood Cemetery, near Hebuterne. Rossignol Wood Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is unique in my experience, as there are more German graves than British.

If you require further detail.....

The War Diary, in part, records,
"13/14 March 1917 - The battalion paraded at Souastre at 6pm and proceeded to Fonquevillers reaching Rossignol Wood at about 10pm. The south east corner of Biez Wood was reached about 12 midnight. The barrage was put on the front line German trench. At 1am the battalion advanced to the attack in waves.

The Radfehrer Graben proved to be a bad obstacle. All lines reached the German wire, and there were practically no casualties. The barrage was very satisfactory - there were no shorts and it was effective. At this point the whole was checked by German wire. At no point was it possible to penetrate to the German positions without cutting. Behind Radfehrer Graben the wire was swept by cross fire from machine guns. A large number of casualties were caused by officers and NCOs looking for gaps in this area. These machine guns were reported firing from behind the parades from the flanks, men having to bunch to get through the gaps in the outer wire, or gaps cut in the second belt. One gap in the third belt of wire, which runs up to the German parapet, was gut by one of our Lewis guns. Another Lewis guns got onto the German parapet and engaged 2 machine guns firing from our right flank somewhere in Radfehrer Graben behind the front line. One gun was silenced entirely and another temporarily ceased fire.

Small parties of men succeeded in obtaining a foothold in the German trench, but this took some considerable time owing to lack of touch being kept, they were forced back by advancing Germans and lack of support.

I can give no information regarding the second line, although the Company Commander is known to have advanced in that direction but no one came back.

The centre company found 1st and 2nd belts of wire fairly well cut. Second Lieutenant Frost and about 30 men gained a foothold in German trench. All the officers (except Second Lieutenant Frost) and 13 NCOs were knocked out by bomb and machine gun fire. Second Lieutenant Frost reorganised the company in a sunken road and remained at this point for about 2 hours when recalled by men at daybreak.

The left company advanced on its objective. No gaps were found but a bulk of the company got into the trench without opposition. They were recalled by me at dawn..

14 March 1917 - The battalion was relieved by the 1/6th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment and proceeded to billets in Souastre."

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 26th June 1915
Five Sons serve King and Country.
Mr and Mrs John Nicklin, of 10 Furnace Parade, Tipton, have given five sons to the service of King and Country, thereby setting a noble example of self-sacrifice. We believe that this, so far, is the best record for Tipton. Unfortunately, Ben, the eldest son (24), who was a Lance-Corporal in the 4th South Staffs Regiment, was killed in action at Richebourg l'Avoue on the 18th of May, and a photo of him appeared in our last issue.
John, the second son, 22 years of age, is a machine gunner in the 1/6th South Staffs Regiment. He has now been fighting in the trenches for four months.
Sam, the third son, 20 years of age, was an able-seaman on H.M.S. "Triumph", which came from China to take part in the war and was sunk by a German submarine. Fortunately he was rescued, and is now on the "Saturnia". He had formerly served on the "Formidable" and the "Turtle", and since leaving them both vessels have been sunk. He forwarded an interesting letter home to his parents describing the sinking of the "Triumph", and this was sent to his brother in the trenches, and who has since been killed.
The fourth son, Arthur, who is 18 years of age, has returned from Jersey on account of his health, and he is now stationed with the South Staffords at the Lichfield Barracks, where he is employed in the Officer's Mess deployment.
Bert, the fifth son, was not sixteen when he joined the Army, and his present address is No.2 Section, 14th Platoon, "D" Company, 15th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.
The son who was killed was married, leaving a widow. He was a Reservist at the outbreak of war, and the other three brothers in the Army have joined since the outbreak of war. The parents only had the five sons of military age, a younger brother being a schoolboy. The son in the Navy joined when he was 17. The father of the boys - John Nicklin - is employed at Messrs. Freakley's "cracker" as it is termed.
The sailor son has been home for a few days furlough this week. He says that when the torpedo struck his ship he was lifted six feet into the air by the explosion, and hardly knew anything for a minute of two. He saved himself by swimming, and was picked up by a torpedo destroyer. He had accumulated a little store of curios which he had intended to bring home, but these went down with the ship. He and his fellow seaman on the "Triumph" saw the famous French battleship blown up, and the crew of his own vessel threw wooden articles overboard, but the ship sank so rapidly that only about 26 out of a crew of 800 were saved. The messages reeled off to the engine room followed in rapid succession: "French ship struck by torpedo", "French ship sinking", "French ship sunk".

Birmingham Daily Post 20th April 1917
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT.- Nicklin, 203385, J., (Tipton).

Tipton Herald 9th June 1917
Mrs John Nicklin, of 10 Furnace Parade, Tipton Green, who had her five sons with the forces at the outbreak of war, has lost her second son in the Great War - Private John Nicklin, who had been wounded twice. He had been attached to the machine gunners of the Staffords. He was last home on furlough about September.
The parents received the following letter from the Captain of the Company:- "It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that your son was killed in action on the 13th. He was universally liked by all in the company, and his loss will be keenly felt. It may be some consolation to you to know that he died bravely fighting for King and country. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in this, your hour of trouble."
The eldest son, Lance-Corporal Ben Hayes, of the 4th South Staffords, was killed in action two years ago. The third son, Sam was and able-bodied seaman on H.M.S. "Triumph", which was sunk by a German submarine over two years ago. The fourth son, Arthur, (also of the South Staffords), is serving at Lichfield. Bert, the fifth son, was not seventeen when he joined the Army, and after being posted to the 15th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, was sent home owing to his age. He has this week attained his 18th birthday, and has received his "papers" to join up.

Tipton Herald 16th June 1917
In last week's issue we referred to the patriotism of the sons of Mr and Mrs John Nicklin, of 10 Furnace Parade, five of whom were with the forces within a few weeks of the outbreak of war. Two of the sons have been killed (John Nicklin and Ben Hayes), and a third, Corporal Arthur Nicklin, has been three times wounded, and recently returned to France bearing the honourable scars of his wounds now healed. In our last issue we inadvertently said he was at Lichfield.