Private 14952 Thomas Nicklin

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Killed in Action on Sunday, 31st December 1916, age 30.
Buried in Grave VI. R. 16. at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

9th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers). Pioneer Battalion of 23rd Division.

Son of Thomas Nicklin; husband of Esther Nicklin, of 11, Church St., Dudley, Worcs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Dudley.

First landed France & Flanders, 24th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Dudley Clock Tower 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/490350/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
22 Hall Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Nicklin (37, Iron Worker, Widower, born Tipton), his wife Mary (38, born Tipton), and their 5 children: Thomas (15, Tube Worker, born Tipton), Lizzie (10, born Tipton), Florence (9, born Tipton), Horatio (2, born Tipton), and Polly (0, born Tipton).

1911 Census
7 Chater's Passage, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Nicklin (48, Widower, Iron Works Shearer, Widower, born Tipton), and his 6 surviving children of 9: Thomas (24, Unemployed, born Tipton), Jane Elizabeth (21, Labourer, born Tipton), Florence (18, Domestic Service, born Tipton), Horatio (12, School, born Tipton), Cissie Nellie (8, School, born Tipton), and David (4, born Tipton).

Marriage of Thomas Nicklin and Esther Bills registered March quarter 1913 in Dudley.
At the time of Thomas's death he and Esther had 3 children: Mary E. (born June quarter 1913), WIlliam E. (born December quarter 1913), and Thomas (born June quarter 1916). Another child, Joseph, was born in December quarter 1914 but died in March quarter 1915.

Personal Data

At the time of Thomas's death it seems that his army pay and allowances had been over-paid by 4/9d (4 shillings and 9 pence), this did not appear to have been re-claimed from his widow. In December 1919 his War Gratuity was paid to his widow Esther; this amounted to £9/10/0d (9 pounds, 10 shillings). The date of Thomas's death and the amount of the War Gratuity suggest that he enlisted in October 1914.

Action resulting in his death

Thomas enlisted with the 9th Battalion, South Staffords in October 1914; they became the Pioneer battalion for the 23rd Division and went abroad in August 1915. They served initially near Armentieres before moving to Vimy Ridge, and then to the Somme in time for the opening of the Battle of the Somme. Here they saw significant action at Contalmaison, Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy; few divisions saw as much action during ther Battle of the Somme.

The 9th South Staffs moved to the Ypres Salient in mid-November 1916, initially in camps near Poperinghe but moving to Ypres where they spent most of December billetted in the Ramparts of Ypres and providing working parties.

On the 30th and 31st December, the 9th South Staffords had 3 Companies ('A', 'B' and 'D') constructing dugouts, digging-out, draining and revetting trenches, and laying trench tramways. This was all in the vicinity of Sanctuary Wood (Roslyn Street, Ritz Street, Borden Lane, St Peter's Street, Winnipeg Street, Hedge Street, and Torr Top). The 4th Company ('C') was attached to the 2nd Canadian Tunnelling Company.

The War Diary contains no mention of any casualties on 31st December, but the Chaplain wrote to Thomas's widow and said that he had been killed 'on the spot' by shellfire whilst on a working party. Thomas is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, about a mile south of Ypres, and 2 miles to the west of Sanctuary Wood.

Newspaper Cuttings

Dudley Herald 10th February 1917
Five Cousins Fall in Action.
Private Thomas Nicklin, of the South Staffordshire Regiment (whose home is at 11 Church Street, Dudley), has fallen in action. He enlisted two months after the outbreak of war, and was drafted to France in August 1915. He was killed on December 31st last.
Private Nicklin was married, and leaves a widow and 3 children. He had not seen his youngest child. He was 30 years of age. Before enlisting he was employed as a horse driver by Mr. Roberts of Dudley Road, Tipton. He has a younger brother, Abraham Nicklin, in the Navy.
Private Nicklin's four cousins have also given their lives for their country.
The Chaplain of the Brigade writes to Mrs Nicklin as follows:- "Dear Mrs. Nicklin, Please allow me to express my deepest sympathy with you in the loss of a good brave husband. His comrades tell me he was killed on the spot, being struck by a shell when out on a working party. I buried him last night in the soldier's cemetery. May God give you strength to bear the sacrifice you have had to make."