Rank: Driver 534204
Regiment or Ship: 2nd Home Counties Brigade Royal Engineers later 491st Field Company Royal Engineers
Service Number(s): 534204
Occupation: Draper’s porter
Date of Birth: 17.11.1889
Place of Birth: Kensington London
Date of Death: 1962
Place of Death: Hastings, Sussex Place of Burial / Memorials:
Address: 14 North Street, Bexhill
Photos and newspaper articles
Father: John 1856-1925
Mother: Alma 1861-1929
Charles Arthur Hawkins 1884-1971
Emma Mary Nichols 1886-1970
Annie E Nichols 1891-1918
Robert Henry Nichols 1894-1932
Frank Victor Nichols 1897-1916 W0096 NICHOLS Frank (Private)
Florence Alma Nichols 1899-1918
Wife: Frances Elizabeth Waite 1885-1966
Brother in law: Edwin Charles Waite W0122 WAITE Edwin Charles (Private)
Brother in law: Eldred Waite W0123 WAITE Eldred (Private)
Brother in law of wife: Charles Henry Britt W0073 BRITT Charles (Driver)
Brother in law of wife: Nelson James Britt W0074 BRITT Nelson James (Ordinary Seaman)
Brother in law of wife: George Edward Veness W0119 VENESS George (Driver)
First World War Experience
John, a married man with a daughter, employed by Longleys enlisted in the 2nd Home Counties Brigade Royal Engineers, the local Territorial engineers, as a Driver in October 1914.This would have been a horse driver as his son, Eldred John, remembered his father saying that it was a shock for his father when he was demobbed back to his civilian job with Longleys that horses were no longer used; it was the age of the motor vehicle.
In November 1914, he marched with his unit from Hastings to Battle for a bean feast at Langton House, the home of Mrs Graham Ticehurst, the mother of Lieutenant Arthur Cecil Ticehurst, the Company Commander. After lunch and entertainment outside Battle Abbey, the 201 men of the company marched back to Hastings.
He is shown in the Bexhill Observer’s ‘Gallery of Patriots’ of 24 April1915 with comment ‘Driver J NICHOLS is the son-in-law of Mrs J WAITE of 15, North Road, Sidley. He joined the 2nd Home Counties Royal Engineers (T) in October, was sent on active service to France in December, and is now in Belgium’.
He almost certainly was involved in some way in the destruction of Hill 60 on 17 April1915, where the 2nd Home Counties were involved. His son, John, states that he was involved with Hill 60. The unit suffered many Bexhill casualties in an enemy bombardment.
In the Bexhill Chronicle dated 1 May1915, his wife, Frances (Bessie) is reported in an item ‘The Engineers from Sidley’, that ‘Driver J NICHOLS, who was formerly in the employment of Messrs Longley Bros has written a number of cheery letters to his wife, in the course of which he says that he hardly believed all he read in the papers before he went out about the sang froid of the British Tommy: but when he saw them doing the cake-walk, and playing mouth organs on their way to the trenches, with the big guns firing all around, he knew that what he had read of their conduct under fire was right.’
During his service he obtained the military qualification of plumber.
On his demob certificate, he is listed as a Driver in the 491st Field Company Royal Engineers the 2nd Home Counties Field Regiment renamed.
After the war he returned to employment with Messrs Longleys and worked for them until retirement.
With acknowledgements to Diana Nichols
Obituary Bexhill Observer 03.03.1962
MR. J. A. NICHOLS:
The death has occurred in the Royal East Sussex Hospital, Hastings, of Mr John Albert Nichols of 19 Wilton Road aged 74. Born in the Royal Borough of Kensington, London, he was educated at the Oxford Garden School at Kensington and came to Bexhill in 1911.
Mr. Nichols joined the staff of Messrs Longley and Co., St. Leonards-road in the early part of 1914 and remained in the firm’s service until his retirement in 1951 when he was presented with a gold watch. Subsequently he joined the local Territorial Army unit of the Royal Engineers and saw active service in Belgium, France and Italy in the First World War, being demobilised in 1919. Mr. Nichols was an air raid warden in the last war.
He had a close interest in the Elva Engineering Co. Ltd. Since it was founded in Bexhill and arrangements were in progress at the time of his death to make him a director of E. J. Nichols (Bexhill) Ltd on whose business he was singularly well informed. The final details regarding the directorship were unavoidably delayed owing to Mr. Nichols’ sudden illness. He leaves a widow, three sons, and three daughters.
A service at St. Peter’s Church on Monday conducted by the Rev R O Stroud, included the hymns’ Abide With Me ‘ and ‘ Rock of. Ages’ . Interment followed in the Borough Cemetery.
The chief mourners were Mr and Mrs J Nichols and Mr and Mrs F Nichols, (sons and daughters-in-law), Mr and Mrs R Gregory (son-in-law and daughter), Miss S Gregory (granddaughter), Mr and Mrs R Emerton (son-in-law and daughter), Mrs A Sitch (daughter), Mrs K Nichols (daughter-in-law), Mrs Shelvey (sister). Mrs Payne (sister-in-law), Mrs F Cornelius and Mrs C Hall (neices), Mr R Nichols (nephew) and Mr R Emerton. The widow was unable to attend.
The funeral arrangements were made by Mr. J. T Suter, for Messrs Longley and Co., St. Leonards Road.